Minimum Wage Increase Advances in New Jersey
I have to admit, I’m feeling pretty good today — I’m just hours away from starting a long holiday weekend, and I get to report more happy news on the minimum wage! Today’s update comes from New Jersey, where the General Assembly just passed a bill (A-2162) that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and index the wage to keep pace with inflation. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that over half a million workers — the majority of them women — will get a raise if A-2162 is enacted.
That raise is sorely needed: full-time minimum wage earnings of $14,500 a year leave a mom with two children thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the country. Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would mean an extra $2,500 per year, which could make a real difference for women and families struggling to make ends meet. And indexing the wage for inflation would help ensure that the buying power of the minimum wage does not erode as it has over the past decades; indeed, if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since the 1960s, it would be more than $10.50 per hour today.
Low-wage workers and their families are not the only ones who would benefit from a minimum wage increase – New Jersey’s economy would get a boost, too. More money in workers’ pockets means more dollars flowing into local businesses, and that means more jobs: according to EPI, raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour would generate over $277 million in economic activity in New Jersey, creating close to 2,500 jobs.
With all those benefits — and no evidence to support contrary claims that a minimum wage increase would cost jobs — perhaps it’s no surprise that the Assembly advanced A-2162 yesterday. Now the New Jersey Senate should move quickly to send the bill to Governor Christie’s desk.
New Jerseyans, you can contact your state Senators and urge them to move the minimum wage bill forward. And New Yorkers, click here to tell Governor Cuomo and your state Senators that your state needs a minimum wage increase, too!
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