A new study from the U.S. Department of Labor has found that 300,000 New York workers are paid below minimum wage, a figure that amounts to between 3.5 and 3.6 percent of the population.
Restaurant and hotel workers were found to be the group most susceptible to underpayment, followed by educational and health services and retail and wholesale.
“These findings are alarming in terms of the prevalence of the problem, particularly in a set of industries where we already know workers earn low wages and struggle to earn a basic family budget,” David Weil, administrator of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division, told the Times.
The violations equal roughly $20 million to $29 million in lost wages each week, which represents 38 percent of the victimized New Yorkers' income. The figures were calculated based on data collected in 2011, when minimum wage was $7.25 per hour.
Back in the fall, fast food workers in 150 cities went on strike to fight for increased wages and the right to unionize. CNN Money previously reported that American fast food workers make an average of $8.74 an hour, which comes to $18,000 a year.
The study also found that such wage violations ultimately cost taxpayers—specifically, an additional $7.8 million was spent on school breakfast and lunch programs, and annual spending on food stamps increased by $33.6 million.