In the November elections, NJ voters voted, with 61% in support, to amend the NJ State Constitution to increase the minimum wage, effective January 1, 2014, from $7.25 per hour to $8.25 per hour. The amendment will also require annual increases to the minimum wage in the event of a cost of living increase. NJ has become just the fifth state in the union to make the minimum wage a matter of constitutional mandate.
This change in our law, both in terms of the amount of the minimum wage and the source of the requirement to pay that wage, helps NJ workers and their families in two ways. First, and most obviously, the increase in the minimum wage will assist workers in supporting their families and making ends meet. The mandated cost of living increases will allow so-called “minimum wage” workers to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living in NJ, already a very expensive state in which to live. The amendment recognizes that minimum wage jobs are not just jobs that students get to help pay tuition or have extra spending money in the summer. An inordinate number of hard working people in this state must rely upon a minimum wage job to support themselves and their love ones – a reality that cannot and should not be ignored.
The second benefit to this amendment is that whether minimum wage increases should occur has now been removed from partisan politics. Regardless of who sits in the Governor’s office or which party has control of the legislature in Trenton, the minimum wage will increase along with the cost of living by virtue of a constitutional mandate and will no longer depend on politics. This is a tremendous victory for the working people of New Jersey.