Upstate-Downstate Wage Differentials are Relatively Small in Low-Wage Occupations

In the course of the debate about raising the minimum wage in New York State, it has sometimes been said that since wages are much lower in upstate areas that a phased-in $15 minimum wage is untenable there. However, this argument is made using overall median wage levels that are subject to distortion by the presence of a large number of high-wage jobs in the downstate area. When an upstate-downstate comparison is made using wages on a detailed occupational basis for the low-wage occupations (like retail salespersons, cashiers or stock clerks) that would be affected by a higher minimum wage, the pattern shows a fairly high degree of uniformity in wage levels across New York State.