New Jersey’s minimum wage, currently set at $8.38 per hour, will not rise in 2016, according to the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.
On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage was increased from $6.55 to $7.25. New Jersey and surrounding states, such as New York, went on to further raise the minimum statewide according to the United States Department of Labor.
In November 2013, New Jersey voters chose to amend the state constitution to tie minimum wage to inflation. This assured an annual increase of wages corresponding to increases in inflation.
The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that New Jersey is one of 11 states that have minimum wage increases each year. The wage was raised in 2014 to $8.25 and again in 2015 to $8.38, according to NJ.com.
According to New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 2015 saw a decrease in inflation, stopping the annual increase of minimum wage for 2016. Since the federal increase in 2009, the state of New York has raised the minimum wage three times. As of 2015, it is set at $9 as reported by its Department of Labor.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is not a supporter of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s grad
ual increase to a $15 minimum wage for all state workers. Christie has opposed increases in the past such as the 2013 vote that tied wages to inflation. His position has recently changed, however. “We’d have to talk about it,” Christie said on CNBC in August of 2015. “But $15, it’s going to destroy jobs.”
Giacomo Santangelo, Stillman School of Business economics professor, explained in an email interview the pros and cons of raising minimum wage.
“Increasing wages is good for one reason. More money for laborers means more money for consumption. More consumption is said to be good for the economy,” Santangelo said. He adds that increasing wages are bad for “several” reasons. Increasing labor costs leads to decreases in revenue.
“The firms have only two options, to pass the increasing costs on to the consumers so increasing wages leads to increasing prices, or lay-off workers to increase the wages of the workers who do not get fired. So, increasing wages leads to unemployment,” Santangelo said.
Students have their own opinions about the minimum wage. Tommy Cilmi, senior public relations major, said the minimum wage should not be increased even though it is “not enough” to raise a family because that is not the purpose of the minimum wage.
“No one should be paid $15 an hour to ask if you want fries with that,” Cilmi said. “So many
people will lose jobs with increased minimum wage, as is evident in states that have already raised it.”
Malika Baker, freshman classical studies major, disagrees and says the minimum wage should be increased.
“As someone who worked part-time minimum wage in another state (Minnesota) before coming here, New Jersey’s minimum is far too low. A raise to $10 for now would be appropriate followed by gradual increases,” Baker said. “The cost of living is higher here than where I’m from, and the minimum wage is over a dollar lower here. It doesn’t compute well.”
Hunter DeSimone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.