Changing New Jersey's Minimum Wage

Monday, November 04, 2013

New Jersey's most contentious ballot questions this year proposes that the minimum wage rise from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour, and amends the state constitution to trigger cost-of-living increases based on the Consumer Price Index, effectively tying minimum wage to inflation. Thomas A. Bracken, New Jersey Chamber of Commerce's president and CEO, who is part of a coalition against the proposed amendment; and Milly Silva, 1199SEIU executive vice president, running with Sen. Barbara Buono as candidate for lieutenant governor of New Jersey, debate the measure.

How the Question Is Framed on the Ballot

Do you approve amending the State Constitution to set a State minimum wage rate of at least $8.25 per hour? The amendment also requires annual increases in that rate if there are annual increases in the cost of living.


Thomas A. Bracken and Milly Silva

Comments [48]


Your implication is that ALL union officials are corrupt. That is false.

Union officials - like college administrators, policemen, radio hosts, superstar athlete's agents -- know that your income should GROW WITH THE ECONOMY or you are falling behind.

When the rest of us get that message, we can begin to turn around the theft that has been occurring for the last 50 years.

Nov. 04 2013 09:20 PM

Yes, Scott. Your scenario has at least one serious flaw. Doesn't the business owner have the ability to raise his prices to cover his increased costs? Likewise for other restaurant owners in his area? The only winner is the owner who ALREADY pays his worker more than $8.25 an hour. Yes, at the margin some businesses will be forced to close. If the state votes 'Yes' on #2 tomorrow, we are deciding that those business should close and free their resources for other uses.

Brutal? Yes, but that is what we are choosing.

Nov. 04 2013 09:06 PM

I don't think there should be a split in the minimum wage between adults/teens. First of all, there are definitely teens who have children who work minimum wage jobs. Secondly, many teens work these jobs to save money for college. Every dollar earned is that much less they have to get college loans for and be under that debt for decades.

Nov. 04 2013 12:34 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL, as Barry Obama would say about voting for an SEIU official:

"If you like your corrupt New Jersey government, you can keep your government.
If you like the union thugs thug that picks your pocket, you can keep your union thug."

Nov. 04 2013 12:22 PM

@Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"A PUBLIC UNION OFFICIAL in the Governor's office!!!"

"Even Democrats can't be this dumb."

1199SEIU is a healthcare workers union. It doesn't represent public workers - i.e. teachers, firemen, police, etc., therefore the dumb one here is you.

However, if Ms. Silva *was* involved with a public union, so what? Don't you think a union leader can make good decisions for the state of New Jersey? Certainly they can be no worse than a politician whose team:

1) Dropped the ball on $400M+ of federal school funds
2) Parked our trains in a swamp when a hurricane was imminent
3) Spent $12M of state money to hold a 'special' election when the general election was 3 weeks away.

Nov. 04 2013 11:08 AM
Clare Neary from Nutley, NJ

Regarding tying a NJ minimum wage increase to the CPI - this is a policy that has been recommended by economists for years. Some years ago, it was recommended by the NJ Minimum Wage Advisory Commission, a group created by an act of the NJ State Legislature to study the issue of raising the minimum wage and its impact on workers and business and then make recommendations to the Gov and the state legislature. For some reason, this recommendation has not been acted upon. Most economic research shows that the negative impact to small business is relatively small and at the margins. I recommend The Stimulus New Jersey Needs: Raising the Minimum Wage Would Boost the Economy While Providing Better Opportunities for Hundreds of Thousands of Working New Jerseyans, a brief, understanable article that details who will benefit from this proposed minimum wage increase and why tying to the CPI is a good thing - it is available on on line at the research group New Jersey Policy Perspective ( Regardless of what happens tomorrow on this ballot question, continuing this discussion another day with some research or academic guests, so to eliminate the bias and misinformation, would be a real public service.

Nov. 04 2013 11:05 AM
Cornelius from NYC

Businesses compete within an economic environment. As aspect of that environment is wage structure. Other than the dubious concern about constitutionalizing a bare minimum wage, the issue of competitiveness seems to be their issue.

While arguments discounting this concern, predicated on experience, have been proposed, they are rejected by opponents. However even if we were to grant them their concern, a generalized -- even national expansion of a humane, living wage makes sense, as minimum wage parity across all political jurisdictions would level the playing field. And if they truly had their workers interest at heart they would vigorously advocate for the same.

In the absence of national leadership on this matter, state-by-state implementation would bury this issue asymptotically.

If morality is too prosaic a term; then how about decency -- or is that too prosaic as well, demand nothing less.

How this issue settles will speak volumes about the soul of this nation. The failure of our leadership -- political and economic, to aggressively promote wage justice is second only the the failure of the people -- in their apathy, ignorance or selfishness, to rise and demand it.

Nov. 04 2013 11:00 AM

@Joyce from NYC

"REAL affluence comes from increased PRODUCTIVITY."

But the the minimum wage worker - heck even the AVERAGE INCOME worker - has been systematically boxed out of the growth in productivity - AS MEASURED BY THE GROWTH IN GDP since the 60s.

In today's dollars in today's economy, it would take an income of $59,000+ to have the same buying power of the minimum wage salary of 1963. Anti-unionism, illegal immigration, international trade agreements without appropriate worker and environmental protection, tax policy and a misplaced focus on inflation rather than growth in the economy have conspired to create a nation of poor people. The economy is generating the dollars, it just ends up in too few pockets.

Nov. 04 2013 10:59 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

A PUBLIC UNION OFFICIAL in the Governor's office!!!

Have things gone this far in this faux-fairness propaganda?

It's like putting a degenerate gambler with no restraint in the cash cage on the casino floor.

Even Democrats can't be this dumb.

Nov. 04 2013 10:53 AM
Chen from Queens

Mark. It does in crease inflation, but not on things that matter. People with money are still buying food, clothes, rent, etc regardless of dividends or even more money. But raise incomes on people at the edge and you will see costs rise, first because there are a hell of a lot more of them, and also because things like rent for example will have more room to rise since more people will be able to pay a higher price. Also as the costs go up on stores and restaurants, dollar stores, then we ignite more inflation and the cycle repeats. In the 70s we had something called stagflation. A bad economy with massive inflation.

Nov. 04 2013 10:49 AM
Lika Dioguardi from NYC

Frankly Mr. Bracken is just trying to distract with saying this is not related to the constitution it does not cover most NJ. etc. A juvenile tactic. I heard implied statement of fact with no reference of evidence.

Everyone uses profitability of business to scare. It will lead to less business. Using fear, especially without evidence is the weak approach, and reminiscent of someone who is political not practical.

Any company develops it's processes around the system that exists. If there had to be more pay distributed, you would see CEOs and top execs getting less to increase profitability and companies finding other ways to stay profitable. Costco pays above the minimum wage, and is hugely successful. Costco does not pay it's CEO an astronomical amount.

The perfect free market requires all factors of production to be unregulated. We already have a minimum wage, so the argument was made obsolete decades ago. Not to mention things like border control. Free market requires perfect market information, perhaps the NSA has it?

Let's cut entitlements across the board and not give people a minimum wage that would allow them to not need entitlements. That is fair non-contradictory, equitable PUBLIC policy.

Nov. 04 2013 10:49 AM


You never fail to disappoint in blatantly choosing a side during a debate.

Increasing the minimum wage simply takes money out of one persons pocket and moves it to another. How would you like to be told what to pay your baby sitter?

Here is a brief real world scenario:

Imagine a hardworking restaurant owner earning $50,000 a year and employing 5 minimum wage employees. Taking $2,000 from his profitability is a 20% pay cut. The owner may decide that $50,000 was ok to stay open but $40,000 is not. What happens next is a business closing, increased unployment, lost sales tax revenue, lost payroll tax revenue, an an wmpty storefront.

Your good intentiona have consequences in the real world.

Nov. 04 2013 10:49 AM
Sunny Buffalo from Princeton Jct, NJ

What the propagandist from the chamber of commerce failed to mention is that there is little empirical evidence that raising the minimum wage has a negative impact on a local economy. Just because your hamburger is going to cost another 10 cents doesn't mean your going to drive to New York or Pennsylvania to get a cheaper one. And every dollar you give a minimum wage slave goes right back into the local economy. If you give a millionaire a an extra dollar it will either be spent in vail or london or invested in some multinational entity bringing little local benifit.

Right now the middle class through every thing from food stamps to hospital fees is subsidizing all those employers currently paying the minimum wage. End the leaching.

Nov. 04 2013 10:45 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

How about a constitutional amendment prohibiting PUBLIC UNION OFFICIALS from running for office?

I mean ... aren't our elected leaders supposed to be serving the public and looking out for THEM in union negotiations and fiscal management??

Who will speak out for the tax payers??

This is madness!!!!

Nov. 04 2013 10:45 AM

Why does raising wages for the workers cause inflation but raising dividend payouts to non-productive shareholders doesn't? The money has to go somewhere, either to the people doing the work or to the people...not doing the work.

Nov. 04 2013 10:42 AM
Corey from Manhattan

Want to see wages rise? Then taper back free trade agreements. Profits are up because nothing is made here anymore. They consider burgers and fries manufacturing in our statistics. If salaries go up here, the pressure to offshore or go out of state go up as well. Like someone else said, there is no free lunch here.

Nov. 04 2013 10:42 AM
Walter from Marlboro, NJ

Mr. Bracken in one breath claims the increase in the minimum wage would not have any significant effect on our Economic growth since it only applies to 5% of our population ( assuming every man woman and child is in the workforce ) and then in the next breath says that over time it will trickle up and affect all hourly workers... I'm assuming that number is more than 5%.

Nov. 04 2013 10:39 AM

Would the gentleman, and the unwashed mob, agree that a proper Constitutional principle would be to have all monetary amounts, minimums as well as maximums, tied to the rate of inflation?

R.I.P. dear Economy. ;-)

Nov. 04 2013 10:39 AM
David Pritchard from NJ

Re minimum wage. I have to support it, but its really imperfect. First, a full time worker (260 days & 8 hours/day) would only make ca. $21K/year @ $10/hour. So the base needs to start higher to begin with. Second, the CPI excludes food and energy (gas) which are the major spending categories for lower income workers.

Nov. 04 2013 10:39 AM
kikakiki from Wall street/Harlem

I know this sounds socialist but, does anyone know what rise there has been in the percentage of profits over a period of years. Asking the question awkwardly but - has company A profits risen 5% in 2000, 8% in 2001 11% in 2002 while the workers raises have risen 1% in 2000, 1% in 2001 1% in 2002 meanwhile minimum way has remained stagnant during these same years - these numbers are hypothetical of course but it makes the question on minimum wage easier to answer.

Nov. 04 2013 10:37 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

SILVA- "It's only fair considering that we have one of the highest costs of living in the country."

LOL, yes, Sweetie, and you and your rapacious radical left wing unions made it so.

... and now you want to further dial up the snowballing of living costs.

Nov. 04 2013 10:36 AM
Lamont from Brooklyn

raise the minimum wage -- see inflation. Rents on the low end can rise, costs can rise to meet the new money. Nothing is free in life otherwise why not pay everyone a million. Because then a million dollars would be worthless. Also, if these jobs needed higher salaries they would be paying them or nobody would apply. You cannot control this simple fact of life. This is why states like NJ and NY lost all our manufacturing jobs - because they were no longer competitive. But, we never learn. If you want to make more money you need to find a niche and increase your skills, there is no other way. I was educated mostly on the streets and even I get this fact.

Nov. 04 2013 10:34 AM
antonio from baySide

What the hell is up with the right with 'the constitution?'

Like its a sacred document or something...ick.

So static so strange...

Nov. 04 2013 10:31 AM
BK from Hoboken

Nice try Mr Bracken. You are spending a million dollars because its less than the amount you have spent on lobbying/bribing politicians to keep it low. As for your contention that business will look at NJ as too expensive to do business, lets
Think about what types of workers are on min wage. Retail, fast food, etc. Is McDonalds going to close down its restaurants in NJ? Is WalMart going to close its stores? Of course not.

Nov. 04 2013 10:30 AM
Nick from UWS

This guy doesn't like this because to put it into the state constitution would be to put it out of the reach of lobbyists.

Nov. 04 2013 10:29 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Typical LEFT WING self-righteous gobbledegook from SEIU.

Let's all go bankrupt together ... it's only fair.

Nov. 04 2013 10:29 AM
Ms. Hampton from Millburn

Work is work. If a job is done, what does it matter what age they are? Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard?

He's saying that changing the minimum wage will hurt the economy but that he's in favor of increasing it? Hunh?

Nov. 04 2013 10:28 AM
Amy from Manhattan

If employers are doing better & don't pay their workers enough to live on, *are* they still living up to the social contract?

Nov. 04 2013 10:27 AM
Nick from UWS

Why is there a picture of Canadian money on this page?

Nov. 04 2013 10:26 AM

What is the lowest hourly wage paid to an employee of WNYC?

Nov. 04 2013 10:25 AM
Kate from West Milford

So sick of hearing politicians say that something won't solve ALL the problems IMMEDIATELY, so therefore we should do nothing. Doing NOTHING is NOT better than doing something!
This initiative will pass, and then I cannot wait for the 2016 campaign ads telling us how Christie thought it was "stupid" to have put more income in the hands of people who turn around and spend it locally right away, because they need consumables so much more than the wealthy.
Bring it on!
(Sorry fortune shouting)

Nov. 04 2013 10:24 AM
Joyce from NYC

I am all for everyone being paid more.

If more pay comes from LEGISLATION, all is accomplished is inflation

(Why not just have the government print $1 million for each citizen and mail everyone a check?)

REAL affluence comes from increased PRODUCTIVITY.

Like let’s start with workers who have higher skills and can do fractions.

Oooops, sorry, that would require TEACHERS in the public schools who have higher skills and can do fractions. And NOOOOO, we can’t demand that!!!!!

Nov. 04 2013 10:24 AM
Joe from nearby

This says it all:

"8.60/hour is barely enough to gas up the car you're living in."

Nov. 04 2013 10:24 AM
antonio from baySide

I am surprised the right never sees such policies as an incentive, to make more money?

Example -> "Wow, I can actually afford my basic expenses, maybe I'll check out college during the night...."

Nov. 04 2013 10:22 AM
Barbara from Shark River from Neptune NJ

Raising the minimum wage does not only affect the 9% or 11% of people who get the raise. It also will reduce the number of people using many of our social safety net provisions--school lunches, welfare payments, even prisons, as fewer children will grow up in deleterious conditions. We all benefit from morefamilies who earn their own way!

Nov. 04 2013 10:21 AM
Joel from Nyack, NY

Mr. Bracken, How can companies continue to exist based on their workers living in poverty? Is this what our country has come to?

Nov. 04 2013 10:21 AM
Nick from UWS

A raise in minimum wage is an assault on CEO salaries. That's all this is about. Greed.

Nov. 04 2013 10:19 AM

Mr. Bracken obviously wants to deprive his members of worker/customers who have enough money to support local businesses in their community.

Without customers with cash, his members won't be in business very long.

He's obviously a member of the Norquist branch of the COC.

Nov. 04 2013 10:19 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Mr. Bracken says the proposed minimum wage increase wouldn't be a cure-all. So what? Is anyone saying it would be? It wouldn't keep other measures from being taken, & it would help people who aren't being paid enough. An additional $2,000 a year would certainly make a difference to me, & I think it's worth doing for the workers would make more money. I once advocated linking the minimum wage to inflation on this show. Not doing so for decades has allowed the cost (adjusted for inflation) to employers to go down over the years, to the disadvantage of employees.

Nov. 04 2013 10:18 AM

I'd like to know more about the demographics of min wage earners. I've heard a good number are teenagers or college students living at home. And wouldn't increasing min wage increase cost of living for all?

Nov. 04 2013 10:18 AM

Putting it in the Constitution would prevent the lobbyists from defeating it via their usual questionable methods.

Nov. 04 2013 10:15 AM
Ms. Hampton from Millburn

Again, are the 11% not as much a part of New Jersey as the 88%?

Nov. 04 2013 10:13 AM

Tying the minimum wage to the CPI is a good step but NOT THE BEST STEP.

Wages (which have more or less risen with the CPI since Johnson) have lagged by a full two points BEHIND the grown in the GDP. As an example, the minimum wage was $1.25/hr in 1963 with a GDP of $654B. Flash forward 50 years and GDP has increased by 24 times minimum wage has not kept up.

If we have to peg MINIMUM WAGE to a target, it should be one half of per capita GDP.

Nov. 04 2013 10:12 AM
Ms Hampton from Millburn

and P.S.: He throws in without support or proof that this would be damaging to our "competitiveness"--all studies done when minimum wage are increased over the last 30+ years have proven otherwise.

Nov. 04 2013 10:12 AM
Michael C from Greenock, Scotland

Brian, we are having a similar conversation in the UK.
I feel you should strip out the arguments about more money going into the economy or the risk that the job creation will be sacrificed on the back of a yes vote. Your position on these will simply will be driven by your political persuasion.

The better question to answer is whether you agree that the minimum wage should equate with the notion of a living wage?

Nov. 04 2013 10:09 AM
Joe from nearby

Mr Bracken speaks with forked tongue.
He wants to raise the minimum wage..........but he doesn't want to raise the minimum wage.

Nov. 04 2013 10:09 AM
Ms. Hampton from Millburn

The man from the Chamber of Commerce contradicts himself. First he says that it'll only affect 5% of the population--and are they less deserving than the 95%--then he says that it;ll devastate the economy of NJ. How can both be true?

Nov. 04 2013 10:09 AM
Robert from Ann Arbor, MI (recent NJ expat)

It seems that a key argument against an increase in the minimum wage is that, in order to cover increased costs in wages, the costs to the consumer will need to increase. Has that ever been tried in a controlled setting? If an increase in the minimum wage were to cover the entire state, is there any real evidence that business will flee the state?

I feel like most people would be OK with paying a little bit more for a fast food hamburger to allow minimum wage workers a slightly higher standard of living while keeping state businesses in operation.

Nov. 04 2013 10:03 AM

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