Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Raise N.J.'S Minimum Wage

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Raise N.J.'S Minimum Wage

Article excerpt

LAST WEEK, the Assembly voted to increase the state's minimum wage to $8.50 an hour, an increase of $1.25 above the federally required $7.25 minimum wage.

The bill, A-2162, which was sponsored by Speaker Sheila Oliver, D- Essex, also pegs the state minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index, bringing automatic adjustments in years to come. The state Senate needs to consider the measure before it lands on the governor's desk.

Christie has not ruled out signing the measure, though his comments above perhaps tip his hand. Many Republicans and business- oriented interest groups throughout the state have argued that increasing the minimum wage hurts job growth.

But such views are shortsighted.

According to a report prepared by the Economic Policy Institute and released by New Jersey Policy Perspective:

* Wages would increase by $489 million in the first year

* Overall economic activity would increase by $278 million in the first year

* The equivalent of 2,420 new full-time jobs would be created

In addition, the report notes that over 500,000 New Jerseyans would feel the direct impact of the wage increase, including the more than 300,000 who now would see their wages increase to the new proposed minimum and the nearly quarter-million workers who earn just over $8.50 and who may see increases as pay scales shift upward.

Other research bolsters the claim that paying higher minimum wages increases economic activity: In sponsoring the bill, Oliver noted a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago that indicated that every $1 increase in the minimum wage yields $3,200 in new economic activity annually.

The reason for this is simple: Those earning low wages are more likely to spend the money they earn on everyday necessities, thus generating ripple effects throughout the economy.

These ripple effects should be important to a governor whose administration -- and likely bid for reelection -- is based on the notion of a "Jersey comeback."

For a state to fully "come back," those on the bottom rungs have to be dragged back into prosperity as well.

A comeback means that the working poor can earn a sustainable wage. …

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