As workers in New York celebrated the new year, many of them were also celebrating for a different reason: it was the first day of their wage hike as the minimum wage increased to $11 an hour. 

The wage hike will help people like Anna Couch-Superville, who earned $10 an hour assisting the elderly before the changes took effect. “It’s a little bit of relief, you know? We all need a little raise,” she said. “It will really help a lot.”

The raise is part of New York’s effort to bring the minimum wage up to $15 an hour. City employees of companies with 11 or more workers will see $2 raises over the next two years, eventually reaching $15 an hour in 2018.

Paul Sonn, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project, said that the raise is necessary for people in fast food, caregiving, security, teaching aides, retail and airport work.

“It’s shocking how little they have been paid,” he said. “These are some of the most essential jobs in our economy that keep us safe and cared for … These are jobs that working adults are relying on, and they don’t pay nearly enough.”

However, not everyone is optimistic about the raises, as workers are worried that their hours will be cut back to compensate or that it will not be enough to keep up with the rising cost of living anyway.

“What can I use the increase on? MetroCards are going up, my rent is going up, everything’s going up,” said a McDonalds worker.

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