New Jersey’s minimum wage goes up to $8.40 an hour at the start of the new year. A constitutional amendment voters approved in 2013 ties the base pay to inflation. Larger increases could be on the way.
Analilia Mejia, the director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, says the 16 cent an hour increase that takes effect January 1st is not enough in a such a high-cost state.
“Think about, how much people have to pay for rent and transportation and food and child care. You’re finding yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to make ends meet.”
Governor-elect Phil Murphy and legislative leaders support phasing in a $15 minimum wage.
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken says it needs to be done over a reasonable period of time.
“If they’re looking to get to $15 in three to four years, that might be a little quick. If it’s $12.50, that might be okay. If it’s five years to get to $15 you know it’s all in the math, and I don’t know what the right math is.”
Bracken says a gradual approach helps employers plan for the extra expense.
“We want to have the people who are getting the minimum wage continue to get increases that make their lives better, but also not force layoffs, not force hours being cutback, not force businesses to rush to automation.”
Mejia believes companies would benefit from a minimum wage boost.
“Families will spend that money, and that will in turn help spur the economy and help all of these businesses afford this increase.”