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New Jersey recently became the fourth state to approve a $15 minimum wage, following California, Massachusetts, and New York in a continuing democratic state trend. NJ.com reports that the wage is set to move to ten dollars in July, and then systematically raise one dollar every year until 2024.
This bill was approved by a democratically-held state legislature and signed into law by the Governor of the state, Phil Murphy. Amongst progressives, the passing of this policy is widely held as a huge triumph, with the New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal Trenton-based think tank, estimating that over 1 million workers will benefit from the wage hike.
Democratic advocates argue that this measure will put people with a lower socioeconomic status on a path to moving up in the economy. However, the passing of this policy is not without criticism.
Republican lawmakers who opposed the bill argued that a significant rise in the minimum wage would stifle productivity, decimate the small business sector, and make getting a minimum wage job significantly harder. NJ.com reports that Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, a Republican from Union, said the minimum wage would cut unskilled teenagers looking for their first job out of the labor force.
A previous version of the bill carved out teenagers, who put up a fight to be included in the standard minimum wage. “It’s not that small business owners don’t have big hearts and want to pay their employees more,” Bramnick said. “They simply don’t have the wallets.”
Many Republican senators are also worried about companies switching to automation instead of hiring new employees. To assuage the fears of small businesses and fellow Republican lawmakers, Democrats included a training wage, which is to be no more than 90% of the minimum wage, and a provision allowing a pause on the raising of the wage in the event of a significant economic downturn.
Proponents of the policy address the issue of $15 being enough in 2024 by utilizing the precedent set by a constitutional amendment that went into effect in 2013 and required the minimum wage to climb with inflation. When the minimum wage rises to $15 in 2024, it will continue to rise based on the consumer price index. The ramifications of the policy implementation hopefully will not hurt the economy or business sector, especially with a similar push to increase the federal minimum wage drastically.
Photo by Fibonacci Blue | flickr.com