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City Hall Announces $20 Minimum Wage for Deliveristas

“Our delivery workers have consistently delivered for us — now, we are delivering for them,” the mayor said.

12:01 AM EDT on June 12, 2023

Mayor Adams at City Hall back in June announcing the new minimum pay for delivery workers. Photo: Julianne Cuba

More than 65,000 delivery workers, who brave dangerous roads, hostile weather conditions and, most recently, acrid spoke from wildfires to bring food and other necessities directly to New Yorkers' front doors will start receiving a minimum wage of $17.96 an hour, rising to nearly $20 in 2025 — the nation’s first minimum pay for app-based restaurant delivery workers, the city announced on Sunday.

In announcing the new wages for workers who now get $7.09 per hour, excluding tips, on average, Mayor Adams spoke of the vital role played in today's world by delivery workers.

“Our delivery workers have consistently delivered for us — now, we are delivering for them,” he said. "They should not be delivering food to your household, if they can’t put food on the plate in their household.”

The new rate follows a law passed by the City Council back in 2021, which required the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection to set a minimum pay wage for the delivery workers, many of whom have been killed and robbed on the job. An initial proposal of $23.82 an hour was watered down in March, but now these workers will eventually get a pay bump of about $13 an hour. The new rate of $17.96 will take effect next month on July 12, and will increase to $19.96 an hour on April 1, 2025, the mayor said, standing alongside Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) and several dozen delivery workers.

Even at the higher rate of pay, a full-time delivery worker would make $41,517 per year, before taxes and their considerable equipment expenses and health care costs.

The apps, which will be required to submit records to the the city to ensure they are following the rules, will have two options for complying with the new minimum wage: instituting a 50-cent-per-minute pay rate, which will rise to at least 55 cents, or the hourly standard. Workers currently take home just 17 cents per minute, according to Ligia Guallpa, the executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project. 

Department of Consumer and Worker Protection Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga said the records would be crucial to "checking the compliance.

“And certainly all of the delivery workers, they are going to let us know as well, if there's any concerns, anything they’re observing, so that we can also be taking action," she added.

The advocates and deliveristas who have long been fighting for better working conditions and higher pay called the announcement an historic win. 

“This rule will set the pay floor for all the essential deliveristas who work tirelessly – whether through a pandemic, a snowstorm or wildfire smoke – and who have been denied a living wage for far too long,” said Guallpa.

Guallpa acknowledged that “there’s still work to do” in establishing the required pay rate given the opposition of Uber Eats, Grubhub, DoorDash, and Relay, who fought against the raise. 

“What we’re happy about is that workers are going to see a significant increase. We strongly believe deliveristas deserve more. We strongly believe that this is the beginning of a journey that doesn't end here, we still want to keep fighting,” she said. 

Comptroller Brad Lander was less diplomatic in his response to the wage increase, criticizing the city for caving under pressure from the apps. 

“City Hall acquiesced to the lobbying of multi-billion-dollar app companies, delaying the raises owed to deliveristas six months ago and setting a subminimum wage standard that pads corporate profits off the backs of some of the hardest workers in our city,” Lander said in a press release on Sunday. 

He added that, according to his office’s calculations, delivery workers will actually take home just $12.69 per hour after expenses this year. The current minimum wage in New York City $15 per hour.

“I respect their decision to stand with the mayor today to announce its overdue adoption. A subminimum pay standard is better than no pay standard at all. But our city can and should do better by the essential workers we applauded during the pandemic and rely on every day,” Lander said. 

Like Lander, the apps were similarly displeased with the announcement — but for different reasons. Uber, DoorDash, and Grubhub all criticized the new pay rate in statements, with DoorDash calling it a “deeply misguided” decision that will have “serious adverse consequences for delivery workers.”

A spokesperson for DoorDash even threatened legal action against the city. 

“Given the broken process that resulted in such an extreme final minimum pay rule, we will continue to explore all paths forward — including litigation — to ensure we continue to best support Dashers and protect the flexibility that so many delivery workers like them depend on,” the spokesperson said. 

Uber called the city dishonest, and claimed that the increase will lead to job losses and fewer tips.

"The city isn't being honest with delivery workers  — they want apps to fund this increase by quote ‘increasing efficiency,’ They are telling apps: eliminate jobs, discourage tipping, force couriers to go faster and accept more trips — that's how you’ll pay for this,” said Josh Gold. 

Relay did not respond to a request for comment.

There is a widespread consensus that minimum wages do not reduce employment among adults.

"We find that the overall number of low-wage jobs remained essentially unchanged over the five years following the increase," a team of economics reported in "The Quarterly Journal of Economics" in 2019. "We find no indication for negative disemployment effects in the non-tradeable, restaurant, and retail sectors where most minimum wage workers are employed in the United States."

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