Momentum continues to build around a minimum wage increase in the days following President Obama’s call to raise the federal level. Today brings good news from the Garden State, where the New Jersey Assembly just approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 per hour, then adjust the wage annually to keep up with inflation. The Senate approved the same proposal last week. Whether New Jersey workers get a raise is now up to the voters: the amendment will be on the ballot this November. (State lawmakers adopted the constitutional amendment strategy after Governor Christie issued a conditional veto of the minimum wage bill the legislature passed last year; the governor has no role in the amendment process.)
A minimum wage of $8.25 per hour would increase a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay from $14,500 to $16,500. This $2,000 boost would still not be enough to lift a family of three above the poverty line, and it definitely falls short of a living wage in a state as expensive as New Jersey. Moreover, the proposed constitutional amendment would not change New Jersey’s minimum cash wage for tipped workers, which is just $2.13 per hour. (Though employers would be required to ensure their tipped employees are paid $8.25 per hour, tipped workers are often paid less than the minimum wage due to wage theft and other illegal practices.) Nonetheless, a $1.00 per hour increase in New Jersey’s minimum wage would be an important step in the right direction – and indexing wages to inflation would help ensure that these very modest gains are not erased as the cost of living rises. Read more »
It’s been a busy few weeks on the minimum wage front, as policymakers in a slew of states have moved to raise wages for low-paid workers. If you follow our blog, you already know that minimum wage increases are on the agenda in Maryland and New York – and you know that this is especially good news for women, who make up the majority of minimum wage workers in those states and across the country.
While a federal minimum wage increase – like the one proposed in the Fair Minimum Wage Act last year – is needed to boost pay for minimum wage and tipped workers throughout the U.S., it’s great to see momentum building at the state level. Here’s a quick run-down of recent developments:
California. A bill pending in the Assembly, AB-10, would increase the minimum wage from $8.00 per hour to $8.25 in 2014, $8.75 in 2015, and $9.25 in 2016, then adjust the wage annually for inflation beginning in 2017.
Connecticut. A bill pending in the Senate, S.B. 387, would raise the minimum wage from $8.25 per hour to $9.00 in July 2013 and $9.75 in July 2014, with annual indexing beginning in July 2015. NWLC’s new fact sheet shows that over 246,000 Connecticut workers would get a raise by 2014 under this proposal – and about six in ten of those workers would be women.
Yesterday was the deadline for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to act on a minimum wage bill that the state legislature passed in December. Governor Christie did not sign the bill, which would have raised the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and adjusted it annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) estimates that the legislature's bill would lift wages for over half a million New Jersey workers, 55 percent of them women. But these hardworking women and their families will have to wait longer for the raise they need, since Governor Christie issued a "conditional veto" — that is, he sent the bill back to the legislature with proposed changes.
Most of those changes would seriously weaken the bill that a majority of elected representatives in New Jersey already passed. Governor Christie's proposal would raise New Jersey's minimum wage to $8.25 per hour over three years, rather than to $8.50 in 2013. And once the wage reached $8.25, it would be stuck there until the legislature acted again to raise it, because Governor Christie's proposal would eliminate the annual cost-of-living adjustments in future years.
New Jersey's cost of living is among the highest in the country. Indexing the minimum wage for inflation is essential to 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. Perhaps that's why a recent poll showed 76 percent of New Jerseyans support both raising the state's minimum wage and tying the wage to inflation. Read more »
The New Jersey legislature just passed a bill to raise the state's minimum wage and index it to keep pace with inflation. Now it's all up to Governor Christie. For this bill to become law, he just has to sign it.
So why are we worried? Governor Christie has threatened not to sign the bill.
That's why we need to turn the pressure up! Please take a second and call Governor Christie to let him know that hundreds of thousands of working New Jersey women need a raise.
Calling is easy. Dial 609-292-6000. When connected, please tell the Governor's office:
Your name, where you are from, and that you are a constituent.
"Please tell Governor Christie that I strongly urge him to give hardworking New Jerseyans a raise by signing the minimum wage bill, including the cost of living adjustment. Thank you."
Big news from the Garden State yesterday: the New Jersey Senate voted to raise the minimum wage! Specifically, the Senate approved the bill passed by the Assembly in May, which would raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and adjust it annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Once the Assembly approves a technical amendment to the bill to change the effective date (expected to occur in mid-December), it will be sent to Governor Christie.
This is an important step forward for hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers in New Jersey, most of whom are women. Today, full-time minimum wage earnings of $14,500 a year leave a mom with two children thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line. 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.
Back in May, New Jersey seemed to be on its way to a higher minimum wage when the state’s General Assembly passed a bill (A-2162) to raise the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour and index it to keep pace with inflation. That raise is urgently needed: full-time minimum wage earnings of $14,500 a year leave a mom with two kids thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line in a state with one of the highest costs of living in the country. But after Governor Christie made it clear he would not sign the bill, it stalled without a vote in the state Senate.
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. Read more »
You could help get hundreds of thousands of working New Jersey women a much-needed raise. More than half of the workers earning the state minimum wage of just $7.25 an hour are women. Many of these women struggle to support families on just $14,500 for a year of full-time work — thousands of dollars below the poverty line for a mom with two kids.
This Thursday, May 24 a bill that would raise the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour and tie it to the rising cost of living will be before the General Assembly.
And in a very exciting development at the federal level today, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Bruce Braley (D-IA) just introduced the Rebuild America Act in the House. Like its companion bill introduced by Senator Harkin, the bill would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour over three years and then index it for inflation, and would also gradually raise the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $2.13 per hour to 70 percent of the minimum wage. Read more »
I hope you saw the new infographic we posted this morning. I think it makes a pretty clear case for raising the minimum wage! Fortunately, in recent months, quite a few states have been getting the message: legislatures in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York are all considering bills to increase the state minimum wage, including the minimum wage for tipped workers. And in Missouri, state advocates just delivered 175,000 signatures in support of a voter initiative that would get a minimum wage increase on the ballot in November.
As of today, the bill in Connecticut (H.B. 5291) – which passed the state House of Representatives last month – is closest to being law. At $8.25 per hour, Connecticut’s minimum wage is higher than the federal level ($7.25 per hour), but still leaves a mother with two kids more than $1,000 below the poverty line if she works full time. H.B. 5291 would raise the state minimum wage to $8.75 per hour over two years and raise the minimum cash wage for tipped workers from $5.69 to $6.04 per hour by 2015. Read more »