NJ Prepares To Be Next State With A $15 Minimum Wage

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New Jersey lawmakers are scheduled to vote on a $15 minimum wage measure Thursday.

State Democrats introduced the bill Feb. 11. It has since steadily advanced through the legislature. Democrats hold a majority in both legislative chambers, making its passage very likely. Republican Gov. Chris Christie will have the opportunity to sign or veto the measure if state senators passes it Thursday during the final vote, reports the New Jersey Business Magazine.

If it passes, New Jersey will be the third state to pass a $15 minimum wage.

“[It] establishes a five-year schedule for gradually increasing the State minimum wage to not less than $15.10 per hour by January 1, 2021,” a report from the state budget office detailed. “Under this bill, the State minimum wage rises on January 1 of each year.”

New York and California became the first two states Apr. 4 to enact a $15 minimum wage following the policy passing in several cities starting with Seattle, Wash., in June, 2014. Supporters say it’s a way to help people rise above the poverty line. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement has been at the forefront of the policy push on the national and local level since it started in 2012.

Those opposed argue the policy could actually hurt the poor by reducing employment opportunities. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association determined the policy could leave employers few options to overcome the added cost of labor. Small businesses especially will have to raise their prices, reduce their workforce or cut hours.

“Proposals increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour have been offered with the best of intentions,” the association detailed in a report June 16. “The reality is that increasing the minimum wage by an unprecedented 79 percent will have a negative impact on small business, the New Jersey economy and on those exact workers that the proponents of this policy are trying to help.”

The National Bureau of Economic Research and The Heritage Foundation determined the impact of a higher minimum wage is worse for young and low-skilled workers. The White House Council of Economic Advisers warned in a report Feb. 22 that low-skilled workers are at the highest risk of being replaced by computers.

Nevertheless, while economists generally agree job loss is a potential risk, many believe the impact would be small. The University of California, Berkeley, for instance, found any losses would be marginal compared to the potential benefits. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found any increase in the minimum wage could result in at least some job loss.

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