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As New Jersey’s minimum wage jumped to $11 Wednesday, News 12 New Jersey decided to talk to one of the business owners who has to pay the higher wages to see how it’s affecting operations.

The businessman, Scott Mele of Tektite, a manufacturer in Trenton, said increased labor costs have him looking to move out of New Jersey.

“It’s basically the state forcing me to change the way I want to operate my business,” Mele told News 12. “They said, ‘Well, you know, if you relocate to Pennsylvania you’re going to save about $70,000 a year. That, for a company our size, that’s a big deal.”

The minimum wage rose $1 on Jan. 1 for most businesses. The hike to $11 per hour came after the law increased from $8.85 to $10 an hour in July. The minimum wage will go up automatically every year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2024. Very small businesses and certain seasonal operations will see smaller increases over a longer period, but will eventually be subject to the $15-an-hour rate.

NJBIA led the fight against increasing the minimum wage and is continuing to push for legislation to alleviate some of its negative consequences. In a statement issued Dec. 31, NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka said, “Across the country, we are beginning to see some of the unintended consequences of $15 minimum wage increases – whether it’s the stalling of entry-level job growth in Seattle or restaurants adding surcharges to food bills to offset labor ordinances in California. New Jersey has an opportunity to mitigate these and other impacts with corrective legislation.”

NJBIA supports bipartisan legislation that provides for the suspension of scheduled minimum wage increases due to an economic downturn, as well as a proposal for tax credits for employers hiring workers under 18 years old, who are now increasingly at risk of not being hired with a higher pay rate. NJBIA also believes the state should establish a task force to study the impact of minimum wage increases on businesses.

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