A series of stories today in the Star Ledger focuses on a number of people living on sustenance wages and barely making ends meet – if at all.

The question continues to come up,a and will be decided once and for all in the next two weeks. Will you vote to raise the minimum wage to 8.25 with yearly increases tied to the Cost of Living Index; or keep it at the present $7.25 an hour.

No one lives on $7.25 an hour, so I’m guessing that that dollar more won’t make much of a difference. However, according to the article quoted below, that's not the way the respondents see it!

The argument for raising it is that it puts more money back into the economy as those low wage earners will have more to spend. Some have also suggested that raising the minimum wage will not have the detrimental effect of eliminating lower paying jobs since a good many of those employers can afford the dollar an hour hike. (Employers like Walmart or McDonalds.)

Still others feel that since the minimum wage hasn’t been raised for a number of years, the level of poverty here in the state will remain high therefore causing a good many people to sign up for government assistance.

Obviously the argument against is the above stated possibility that jobs will be lost, or hours cut.

Bit of a “Catch 22”, wouldn’t you say?

Living on minimum wage in New Jersey can mean choosing between eating and paying bills, still living with your family when you are in your 30s or begging the landlord to delay the rent.

It can lead to that uneasy feeling of standing at an ATM and wondering whether money — or an embarrassing note saying there are insufficient funds — will be spit out.

It can mean giving up any hope of going on vacation — or even just seeing a movie or visiting a relative in another state.

On Nov. 5, New Jerseyans will vote on whether to amend the state Constitution to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, followed by automatic annual increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

Proponents say an increase would help employees improve their standard of living. Opponents say it would force businesses already operating on thin profit margins to raise prices and cut staff, creating an even worse situation for those on the bottom rung of the career ladder.

Michael Saltsman, research director at Employment Policies Institute, a business-backed think tank said, “the money has to come from somewhere.”

Raising the minimum wage, he said, “would be harmful to both the state’s employers and employees, and will hurt the least-skilled job seekers the most” in an economy where 26 percent of teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 already are unemployed.

For Bedminster resident Susan Lefkowitz, living on the minimum wage is a juggling act that requires her at times to decide whether to pay a bill or buy food.
Lefkowitz said she has been working as a salesperson for the last few months at a T.J. Maxx, the latest in a series of retail jobs she’s held since her business collapsed in the wake of the recession.

Lefkowitz, whose business involved promoting alternative health care treatments, said she once earned between $85,000 and $95,000 per year. But when the recession hit, she lost clients and ultimately shut down the business.

Living on the minimum wage “keeps people at poverty levels,” Lefkowitz said.

And she’s not the only story.

But as I've stated above, no one can live on one minimum wage job. You’d need at least 2, maybe 3 to even get by in this state. I’d be most concerned that if the minimum wage were to go up – I’d possibly lose one of those jobs I so desperately need, or some of the hours I’m currently working.

However, my guess is that the minimum wage item will pass with flying colors – and not just among low wage earners.

Anyone with a job is going to vote with the vicarious feeling that they’d be voting THEMSELVES a raise. Or at least that’s the feeling I get.

And as for you:

Will you vote to raise the minimum wage?