January 7, 2014 |
Pennsylvania will keep its minimum wage the lowest among large Northeastern states, if the commonwealth's leading business lobby gets its way. Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, liked my use of the phrase "brute force" to describe the role of government in trying to use a higher minimum wage to spread a little prosperity. But that's about all the chamber chief liked in my Dec. 22 column noting some politicians here want to copy Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and other adjoining states that have started boosting base pay significantly above the federal $7.25 an hour.
January 2, 2014 |
Effective Wednesday, New Jersey's minimum wage will rise by $1 to $8.25 an hour, boosting the paychecks of more than 250,000 New Jerseyans and bumping up costs for businesses with low-wage workers. While the wage increase is immediate, the reaction by businesses may take longer to assess - especially in light of the automatic annual increases voters approved in November, guaranteeing minimum-wage workers future raises. Businesses will "over time decide how they're going to deal with it," said Thomas Bracken, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
December 25, 2013 |
The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury saved the banks, corporations are pocketing record profits, rich investors are getting richer. But most Americans aren't sharing that wealth. Average hourly earnings, adjusted for inflation, are stuck at 1970s levels, the U.S. Labor Department reported. Retail and home sales are still slow. How will we grow our way out of this slump? More states are pushing for an alternative method to boost wages: brute force. Which is to say, higher minimum wages.
November 8, 2013 |
TRENTON A day after voters said yes to raising the state's minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, along with automatic cost-of-living increases, supporters cheered the measure's passage Wednesday, with Senate President Stephen Sweeney blasting business groups for opposing it. "This is about helping the working poor make a better life for themselves," Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said Wednesday morning at a news conference in the basement of a church in Trenton, his first stop during a day of celebrating Democratic wins and the party's retaining control of the Legislature.
November 7, 2013 |
New Jersey voters approved a ballot measure Tuesday to raise the state's minimum wage by $1 to $8.25 an hour, with annual cost-of-living increases. New Jersey joins 18 states and the District of Columbia that have minimum wages higher than the federal level. The state is the 11th to tie future increases to cost of living, according to New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal-leaning think tank. The provision guaranteeing automatic increases tied to the Consumer Price Index "will ensure that New Jersey's low-wage workers don't fall even further behind," said NJPP president Gordon McInnes.
November 7, 2013 |
Despite a double-digit win by Gov. Christie, Democrats held on to control of the Legislature, with Republicans projected to make at best modest inroads as races were being called late Tuesday night. In an election marked by record spending - as of last week, outside groups had poured $38 million into state races and ballot questions - Republicans weren't on track Tuesday night to pick up nearly enough seats to wrest control from the Democrats, who had a 24-16 majority in the Senate and 48-32 majority in the Assembly.
November 5, 2013 |
Increasing New Jersey's minimum wage now and through annual cost-of-living raises will help workers and boost the economy. Or it will force businesses to increase prices and cut hours, hurting consumers and workers. Through radio ads, pamphlets, and news conferences, dueling campaigns are trying to reach voters about a ballot question that would amend the state constitution to increase the minimum wage by $1, to $8.25 an hour, and tie future increases to the Consumer Price Index. Voters will decide the measure Tuesday.
November 3, 2013 |
Tuesday's election pits freshman Republican incumbents against novice Democratic challengers with no elective experience in the Eighth Legislative District, which spans 15 municipalities in Burlington County, four in Camden County, and Hammonton in Atlantic County. Party registration and the 2011 legislative election results suggest that the district leans Democratic. Candidates on both sides cite jobs and taxes as the issues voters care about most. Republican Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, an Evesham lawyer and former Burlington County freeholder and assemblywoman, says she stands a good chance of winning a second Senate term because she is pro-business, and "we work hard for our constituents.
October 21, 2013 |
Ben and Sharneka Hunter are a fast-food family. The Wilmington husband and wife work at Burger Kings in different cities - Ben, 43, in Wilmington, Sharneka, 30, in New Castle. Both earn hourly minimum-wage salaries of $7.25. And both need food stamps and Medicaid to augment their combined $17,000 yearly salary - $2,500 under the federal poverty line - so that they and their 9-year-old daughter can survive. "I don't think it's fair to be underpaid," Ben said. The Hunters' plight is shared nationwide, according to a report released last week by the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
October 8, 2013
With new census figures showing low- and middle-income workers continue to lose ground, lawmakers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are taking steps to boost the lowest wages. Though legislation vetoed by Gov. Christie would have been preferable, polls show New Jersey voters are likely to approve a constitutional amendment raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour and hitching it to the consumer price index. And Philadelphia voters may soon get a chance to raise the wages of city subcontractors.