Nov. 5 is just over one month away, and for many New Jersey workers, it will be an important election day. One question on the ballot this year is whether or not the minimum wage in New Jersey should be raised to $8.25 and include annual cost-of-living adjustments.
The New Jersey Policy Perspective has crunched the numbers and estimates that 241,000 workers would be directly affected by an increase, and another 188,000 would indirectly benefit through a raise based on the increase. That amounts to 11 percent of the current workforce.
Proponents and opponents of the proposed increases continue their heated debate and won’t stop until the polls close.
A lot of opponents argue that minimum wage jobs are not intended to provide a “living wage,” but that they are instead a career starting point for younger generations. The major problem with this argument, said proponents, is that a significant percentage of workers making minimum wage are living off of it or forced to take on multiple jobs to make ends meet. These workers aren’t teens; they are single moms, dads and families that are living under the poverty level due to a low minimum wage.
For others, it is not the $1 increase. Instead, it is the cost-of-living adjustments that have their attention. The cost-of-living adjustments would be determined by the consumer price index, which rose only 0.1 percent in August. However, over the course of the past year, it has increased by 1.5 percent.
The truth is that some minimum wage workers are not even receiving the compensation that they are due under current New Jersey and federal laws. Whether an employee is not paid overtime wages because of employee misclassification or denied the meal and rest breaks that are mandated by law, they may have a wage and hour claim.
Source: NorthJersey.com, “New Jersey minimum wage ballot fight heats up,” Joan Verdon, Sept. 29, 2013