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NJ’s Minimum Wage Hike Kicks in Tomorrow [AUDIO]

Roughly 250,000 Garden State residents earning minimum wage will be getting a $1 pay increase beginning tomorrow.

Minimum Wage
Minimum wage campaign (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)

In November, New Jersey voters approved a ballot question to amend the state constitution to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 and have it adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. The pay raise goes into effect tomorrow for roughly 250,000 Garden State residents. Gov. Chris Christie and many business leaders are not thrilled, but supporters of the wage hike are very happy.

“When you give the working poor a little more money they actually spend it,” Sen. President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said. “It actually gets back into the businesses and the communities. We can’t wait for elected officials to get a conscience and say, ‘When is the last time we did the minimum wage?’ It’s not fair and it’s not right.”

The original minimum wage increase bill was vetoed by Christie, who objected to the annual adjustments. He countered with a proposal to hike the wage by one dollar over three years.

“You just shouldn’t amend the constitution to do this,” Christie said the day after the ballot question was approved. “We should’ve come to an agreement on how to do it legislatively.”

Garden State business leaders warn of very bad things to come. Citing a recent study, they say as many as 31,000 jobs could be lost in New Jersey in the next decade.

“The difference between this initiative and previous increases is that it raises the cost of labor every year forever regardless of business conditions,” said National Federation of Independent Business, New Jersey director Laurie Ehlbeck. “The bottom line is that New Jersey will have many fewer jobs and a smaller economy.”

Nearly 450,000 low-wage workers will benefit from the Jan. 1, 2014 increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage, according to an updated analysis released by New Jersey Policy Perspective. The report found that the $1 increase in the state’s minimum wage will also generate more than $173 million in new economic growth next year and support the creation of the equivalent of 1,300 new jobs as businesses expand to meet increased consumer demand.

“Forget about the stereotypical teenaged burger-flipper,” NJPP president Gordon MacInnes said. “New Jersey’s low-wage workers are increasingly adults struggling to gain a foothold in this high-cost state. Raising the minimum wage will provide crucial assistance to these New Jerseyans. We’re proud that New Jersey voters overwhelmingly did the right thing for these hundreds of thousands of workers and gave them a much-needed raise.”

NFIB Questions NJPP’s Analysis

“They assume that low-wage workers will have more money to spend but that their employers will be unaffected by a 14 percent increase in their labor costs,” Ehlbeck said. “That’s a novel theory that needs more explanation.”

Another leading minimum wage increase advocate in the legislature is Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. She said the business community’s concerns will prove to be baseless.

“I think that this is disposable income that people will immediately be spending,” said Oliver. “The voters of New Jersey were right on target with their decision.”

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