The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development recently announced the State’s minimum wage will rise 16 cents next year to $8.60 an hour, effective January 1, 2018.
The minor increase in the State’s minimum wage is driven by a bump in the consumer price index. The minimum wage is governed by a State Constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2013, which raised the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.25 per hour, and tied future increases to inflation.
Last year, Democrats in the State Legislature passed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, but it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. That proposal would have gradually increased the minimum wage over several years, and additional increases would have been based on increases in the consumer price index.
Opponents of such a dramatic increase in the minimum wage warn about potentially harmful economic effects, including making New Jersey unaffordable for many businesses. The push for a continued increase in the minimum wage enjoys widespread worker appeal, with a recent Quinnipiac University survey finding that 74% of voters support increasing the minimum wage, while 24% oppose it. About one-third of respondents felt New Jersey’s minimum wage should be $15 per hour, while approximately 50% felt it should be lower. Another 8% felt the minimum wage should be MORE than $15 per hour and 9% felt there should be no increase.