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Bill to Raise Minimum Wage Advances in NJ Assembly

The proposed minimum wage raise from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour will go to the Senate next, with Gov. Christie still undecided on his support.

A proposal to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour advanced in the New Jersey Assembly on Feb. 23, when it passed by a 6-2 vote. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) sponsored the bill.

The state Assembly Labor Committee cleared the bill from Democrats, who have called the bill a priority and hope to make it law by July 1. Though it has not yet gone through a Senate hearing, the bill will require future adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index.

Gov. Chris Christie said he has not yet made up his mind about the bill but is said to be willing to consider the implications of raising the minimum wage in New Jersey. If the law is passed, New Jersey would go from having one of the lowest state minimum wages to one of the highest.

CBS News.com reported Oliver phoned the governor on the morning of Feb. 23, pledging to work with Republicans and Democrats to get the measure signed into law.

Deborah Howlett of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a Trenton-based liberal think tank, endorsed the increase. “The increase may be only $1.25 an hour but it could mean the difference in families paying a utility bill in full or buying new school clothes for their children,” she said in an article that appeared in Newsroom New Jersey on Feb. 23.

Opponents of the bill, however, say the proposed increase would not necessarily benefit minimum wage workers. In the CBS News.com report, a New Jersey business owner who spoke at the hearing said raising the minimum wage would mean he would have to pay higher payroll taxes, forcing him to let some go of some of his employees.

"I don't want to keep anyone down," said Joe Olivio, whose family-owned Perfect Printing is based in Moorestown. "Sometimes you can hurt the very employees you're trying to help." He added that it's easy to demonize people like him who oppose increasing the minimum wage.

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association echoed Olivio’s stance, saying small-business owners can't absorb a 17 percent increase in the minimum wage in the current economy.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have higher minimum wages than New Jersey's minimum.

Do you think this new minimum wage will enhance people's quality of life, or is it still not enough to survive? Tell us in the comments section below.

NJ Business February 29, 2012 at 01:25 PM
What this raise will ultimately mean is that most NJ high school students will never find a job. Businesses will simply look to hire older part time workers who will actually show up for work and have real bills to pay. NO ONE is going to pay $8.50 for an untrained, inexperienced HS student.
Annie February 29, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I think you said it all when you said business will hire an older person because they will show up to work. Thats why they will be hired instead of the kids....they need dependable people to rely on for their company's not people who don't care.
Teresa T March 01, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Why can't they impose a minimum wage for adults, and a lower minimum wage for kids under the age of 18. This way you can hire a kid with no experience and possibly less responsibility as their first job for $7.25, or a more responsible adult for $8.50.
Tyler L March 03, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Who are you people to say that? Do you know how many teenagers now have to pay their own bills or have to help their parents financially? Some due to irresponsible parents and others just because their parents are unable to provide what they need since they don't make enough money themselves.

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