TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s minimum wage will automatically rise fro $11 per hour to $12 per hour on January 1, 2021, and critics say it’s only the latest blow for small businesses battered by COVID-19 restrictions.
“Just yesterday there was an article highlighting nearly 70 popular restaurants that have had to close permanently since COVID began, yet we are going to force businesses barely hanging on to absorb a wage increase that many were already going to struggle with,” Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso (R-13) on Wednesday. “There has been bipartisan legislation out there to delay the minimum wage increase. Now more than ever it seems critical that we call an emergency legislative session to delay this increase. Our small businesses are suffering, livelihoods that took a lifetime to build in pursuit of the American dream have been crippled, and if this minimum wage increase proceeds, it certainly won’t be COVID that is to blame.”
New Jersey’s minimum wage will continue to rise automatically – until it hits $15 – due to a 2019 law change affirmed by Governor Phil Murphy. Post-$15 increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index.
A recent Harvard survey found over 31% of New Jersey businesses having failed in 2020.
Restaurants in the Garden State have been particularly hard hit by an ongoing 25% occupancy limit for indoor dining.
“Here we are, nine months into the pandemic, millions having been unemployed, segments of our economy on life support, and the minimum wage is set to increase yet again in the next few days,” said state Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13) in a statement accompany DiMaso’s. “We are left with no option for a discussion about delaying that increase. It is statutorily an impossibility. It would make perfect sense to have an emergency session to pass legislation suspending the increase for at least six months, but that would be good government, and this is Trenton.
“We all want everyone to have the opportunity to prosper and to make as much money as possible,” O’Scanlon added. “Some increase to the minimum was justifiable back in 2019 when we enacted it. But rigid, substantial ongoing increases – with no flexibility or safety valve in the face of economic downturn – were ill advised when enacted and totally counter-productive now. To increase economic stress on businesses desperately struggling to survive, desperately struggling to avoid laying people off, is insanity.”