VINELAND, N.J. – Governor Phil Murphy’s 2019 minimum wage law just bumped up New Jersey’s minimum wage another $1, from $10 to $11 effective January 1st. And it’ll continue to rise, too, upon hitting $15 and thereafter as it is now indexed to inflation. Seasonal workers and businesses with under six workers just saw their minimum wage rise from $8.35 to $10.30.
State Senator Michael L. Testa, Jr. (R-1) says Garden State businesses – especially those at the Jersey Shore – are likely to pay a steep price.
“This increase comes at a significant risk,” said Testa, whose South Jersey district includes all of Cape May County and a number of farming communities in Cumberland County. “Higher business expenses will result in higher prices for consumers, but the news can be even worse for employees. Mandatory hikes to minimum wage have been linked to reduced hours and job opportunities for low-skilled workers. The people who least can afford it will be hurt the most.”
“In South Jersey, where the seasonal tourism industry is crucial to the local economy, the impact is likely to be more severe. These businesses were exempt from last year’s increase, but in 2020, they will be hit even harder to make up for it,” Testa added. “To stay in business, many of these important local operations will have no choice but to cut staff, reduce benefits, and consider investing in job-killing automation. That is the reality.”
A mountain of economic data points to negative employment consequences when the minimum wage rises beyond the point where businesses can afford to hire entry level or low skill employees.
Jersey Shore towns are now bracing for an expensive Summer 2020 season. Lifeguards and beach taggers are among the many public employees who are not excluded by the law, meaning the cost of their higher wages will be passed along to taxpayers and tourists.
“The radical jump in salary will place pressure on shore towns to increase taxes,” Testa continued.
The next stop: in 2021, an election year state-wide, the minimum wage will hit $12 for most businesses and and $11.10 for seasonal employers.