The new year marked the first time the New Jersey minimum wage was automatically raised to reflect the increase in the cost of living. On January 1st, those earning the minimum wage received a 13 cent per hour “raise”, or for those lucky enough to have 40-hour per week jobs, a gross increase of $5.20 in each week’s paycheck.
But let’s not fool ourselves. This was not a raise, but merely an increase to reflect the inflation in prices of goods and services. Even though this increase merely keeps those living under poverty wages right where they are, it’s a good thing in that this $5.20 will be spent in New Jersey and will provide a $35 million boost to the state’s economy according to New Jersey Policy Perspective. That organization’s report reveals that 61% of minimum wage workers are women and 65% of all minimum wage workers are single with no children.
Fortunately, these workers also receive free box seats at Dallas Cowboys football games. Just kidding. It’s our governor, who fought against the minimum wage increase, who possibly skirts ethics rules to make high-profile appearances at Texas football games to court their 38 electoral votes. I suspect that the dozens of security personnel who accompany the governor on the taxpayer’s time earn more than the 170,000 minimum wage workers in the state, and justifiably so. But wouldn’t it be nice if the governor watched the game from his big screen TV in his Mendham home instead of scoffing at the most vulnerable citizens of his state who are struggling to make ends meet? Leadership by example trumps leadership by bluster.