Now that the voters have spoken, raising the minimum wage by one dollar to $8.25 per hour, should the discussion be over? We have the unique opportunity after January 1 to begin gathering data on the impact of the increase. Prior to election day we heard the opponents of raising the minimum wage say, “it’s a job killer, small business will suffer, etc.” The proponents pointed to states with higher minimum wages and lower unemployment. Vermont for example has a higher minimum wage that will increase again January 1 to $8.73 per hour. Very notable, tipped employees minimum wage is $4.23 per hour (New Jersey $2.13). Unemployment in Vermont as of Aug 2013 stood at 4.6% and has been lower than 6% since January 2011. During this same period New Jersey’s unemployment has been 9% or higher. The opponents of raising the minimum wage were using fear that unemployment would get worse with an increase. “Now is not the time” . The fear tactic obviously was ignored.
Gathering data for possible future fights to increase the minimum wage in other states and the federal standard will begin. This task is an important one and the data will provide others with the tools needed to push the wage up further. New Jersey’s economy is currently not good, making this even more interesting. If unemployment goes down and the economy improves, Governor Christie will be patting himself on the back, not pointing to this modest increase.
As for the tipped-employee and $2.13 an hour? The last attempt by the NJ Legislature to raise to $2.90 was unsuccessful. Fear again the winner. ”It will crush Mom and Pops and local small restaurants” Can we look toward Vermont’s tipped minimum of $4.23 and make the same argument that increasing the wage does not correlate to higher unemployment? We can get some real facts in the coming months and maybe again Legislators will take another shot at an increase.