The rising cost of employee health insurance and other benefits is the biggest problem confronting factories across New York State and service firms in the metropolitan area, according to two new polls.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its survey of about 100 manufacturers in the state found more than four in 10 said employee benefit costs are a “major problem” for them.
A separate survey of about 100 retailers and other service firms on Long Island, in New York City and its northern suburbs found employee benefit costs was the top concern. More than three in 10 said it was a “major problem.”
The surveys were conducted earlier this month and released Monday.
After employee benefit costs, major problems for manufacturers were finding qualified workers and dealing with government regulations. Service firms had the same concerns, though more were worried about navigating government regulations followed by finding qualified workers.
“While most of this month’s results closely paralleled those from October 2014, one issue that seems to have grown increasingly problematic — among both manufacturing and service firms — is employee wage costs,” the New York Fed said in a statement.
In this month’s polls, employee wage costs were cited as a major problem by nearly 2 in 10 factories and more than 1 in 10 service firms.
When asked if they expect the problems to get better or worse in the next year, nearly two-thirds of businesses in both the service and manufacturing sectors said they expected employee wage costs to grow increasingly problematic.
“This was a much higher proportion than in any of the earlier surveys,” the bank said. “This view likely reflects a combination of tighter labor market conditions and the phase-in of higher minimum wages.”
Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law a bill passed by the State Legislature raising the state minimum wage from $9 per hour to $15 in stages over several years.