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Only One Half Of One Percent Of New Jerseyans Work For Minimum Wage

Minimum Wage Campaign
Minimum Wage Campaign (Kevin McArdle, Townsquare Media NJ)
By Jeff Deminski

We had an interesting debate regarding the battle over minimum wage, which has gotten a lot of attention in Trenton. Our current minimum wage, $7.25 per hour, has remained unchanged in the better part of a decade. The legislation to raise it with strings attached was vetoed by Governor Christie. He offered a compromise that the Democrats would not warm up to. He wanted to detach the string that forced an annual adjustment tied in to the Consumer Price Index and raise it by one dollar an hour phased in over 36 months. Sounds reasonable to a lot of us, but the Democrats instead are forcing the issue to a ballot initiative this November.

If approved it will be a change to our state constitution raising the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, with those annual adjustments tied to the CPI. The CPI issue is what scares many business people who believe it will cause a lot of doubt with companies trying to look ahead and setting budgets.

In all the rhetoric from Democrats on this issue, you’ll often hear how many hundreds of thousands of people in New Jersey will be helped by this. One of the latest quotes comes from Gubernatorial candidate Senator Barbara Buono.

“By vetoing the minimum wage, this governor has in essence vetoed the hopes and promises a better quality of life for a quarter of a million women in New Jersey.”

Examine that statement. It’s saying denying the minimum wage hike crushes a better quality of life for 250,000 women. Wouldn’t any reasonable person infer from this statement that that’s the number of females working for minimum wage? It’s a lie.

Thomas Bracken, the CEO and President of the New Jersey Chamber Of Commerce, called in to Tuesday’s show and pointed out, correctly so, that only 40,000 working people earn the minimum wage in New Jersey. His numbers are dead on. Even groups like NJ Citizen Action which supported the minimum wage hike admits there are only 40,000 minimum wage earners in New Jersey. But when politicians talk about it, we hear numbers like a quarter million, three hundred thousand, I even read one hyperbolic statement of it rescuing half a million from the great abyss.

The only way they can justify these numbers is to imagine that other low wage earners might also get a trickle up boost, but there’s zero guarantee of that. In other words, if the minimum wage goes from $7.25 to $8.25, and you were earning $8.75, maybe, just maybe, the climate will become such that you could demand $9.50. The only other way they can justify throwing those numbers around is to say if those 40,000 minimum wage earners get a buck more an hour, it will improve the lives of everyone else in their family; their mothers, sisters, daughters. It’s a stretch at best. What it really is is blatant exaggeration to make you think there are far more minimum wage “victims” than there really are so that you’ll be an outraged in hopes that Democrats turn out at the polls in greater numbers than Republicans.

In reality, this is a change to our state constitution that a recent study shows could ultimately negatively affect business and cost New Jersey 31,000 jobs over a decade. A change that only affects 40,000 people in a state of 8,000,000. In other words, 99.5% of us will not see a penny more, yet business could suffer tremendously. I beg you, don’t fall for it.

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