A serious factory owner stands with a serious look on his face.

NJBIA member companies reacted swiftly to yesterday’s news that Democratic leaders had reached an agreement to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin announced the deal late Thursday.

Urgent: Tell your elected representatives to vote NO on $15 minimum wage

“Bravo to our small businesses for speaking up and keeping their comments respectful and on-point,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “NJBIA is going to do everything we can to stop this bill from becoming law. But let’s face it: The odds are against us.  We’re going to need you to continue to speak out, and to contact your legislative representatives to fight this bill.”

NJBIA reported the agreement in its daily newsletter, and Siekerka went live on NJTV last night to speak up for business owners.  Member companies took the opportunity to offer their own take in the comment section of our website. Here’s a few examples of what they said.

“I own a small business that will not be hiring any more entry-level employees,” wrote one commenter. “$15/hour is just too much money for us to afford.” 

“My sons will inherit our business and are already considering a move to PA or shutting down completely,” said a long-time business owner. “Trenton is killing us.”

“My husband owns a small business, and we are being taxes and regulated as well as hit with fines, fees, and mandates,” said another commenter. “It’s out of control. Large and small businesses will leave NJ in droves, right along with NJ citizens. We plan to be among them.”

Some commenters noted some of the unintended consequences such a move would have.

“Businesses will increase prices passing the costs onto consumers and other businesses for B2B.  For the businesses that do not increase prices they will struggle, go out of business, or move out of state in order to survive.”

Another business noted the impact it will have on wages above $15 an hour.

“I’m curious how you handle say an employee with a degree and a few years say making $17 an hour, now you have a non-degree new employee coming in at $15? I would think people would then want a wider wage gap.”

One company was very specific about its impact.

“We compete with China and Mexico already. We can’t pass along increases to our customers. The market should be determining labor rates not Trenton.”

While most comments were against the proposal, the $15 minimum did have one supporter.

“These people should be ashamed of themselves. Everyone has a right to live, and if someone works they should be paid a fair wage. $15.00 is not a lot of money. It costs twice that for a tank of gas. It comes to about $30,000.00 a year and many of these people have to pay for child care and do not get health insurance.” 

These are just some of the comments.  To read them all, go to Agreement on Minimum Wage Reached and scroll to the bottom of the story.

16 responses to “Businesses Sound the Alarm on $15 Minimum Wage Plan”

  1. Jack says:

    We are a small business with 7 employees. This is a disaster for us. We are in a competive enviroment where raising prices is very detrimental, yet we cannot absorb what is coming. The earlier proposal had small business defined as 10 employees. Now it is 5! We are trying to figure how to survive. I worry the politicians really don’t listen to us.

  2. Mike Irene says:

    It’s not that they don’t listen; they don’t care.
    Many of our politicians have been at the government trough all their lives.
    Most have never run a business, never had to make payroll, etc.
    They have no idea what is involved in running a business, particulalrly a small business. They can’t run the government (ballooning defits, debt, unfunded pension liabilities), yet they presume to dictate how we run our businesses.
    This is the reason so many folks are “voting with their feet”, and leaving New Jersey.

  3. Harry says:

    Watch out, the ignorance is prolific. These politicians do not understand capitalism or a free market economy. Everything is going very well now. They don’t get it and will ruin it. Unemployment is at historic lows. Employees are harder and harder to find. Wages and benefits are rising rapidly. Socialism is rearing its ugly head. Let them hear our voices. Vote them out!!

  4. Steven says:

    I own a small business and I pay a good wage to my full-time employees. My manager earns $60k and the full-time employees are close to $15 an hour. The new minimum hurts me for ancillary help, food delivery, counter help ect. These employees are come and go an now I risk losing my long time employees because they do not understand why a new, probably wont be around too long non-dedicated employee will earn equal pay because I can not afford to increase proportionately across the board. Some weeks I make money and some I lose, this cost will almost certainly put my stores out of business unless residents are willing to pay $22 for a plain pizza

  5. Jeffrey Barat says:

    Concerns about businesses moving out of state if forced to pay the new minimum wage are overblown. Generally, companies that pay their workers minimum wages are service companies, fast food restaurants or retail. Very few of those businesses can relocate and will raise prices along with their competitors.

    The benefits of the additional wages being paid will translate into more business as low paid workers tend to spend a higher percentage of their earnings locally. Contrast that with tax cuts that benefit wealthier individuals that can spend their windfalls on vacations and products that can be bought out of state.

    • Doug Kandel says:

      This comment must not be written by a small business owner. Fact is small businesses who do manufacturing, converting and non-professional services type work rely on lower cost labor to produce their products. $15/hr is so far out of reach for most of these businesses’ economics that we will either die a slow death, shutdown or leave the state. There are no other options. Competition from foreign products and even domestic producers with lower cost basis does not allow for that kind of an increase to be passed through. The market has always functioned as the best driver of wages when you start to monkey with the market system you play with fire and you can guess what happens next.

  6. Harry says:

    As a businessman with several businesses in NJ this is bad news all around. Successful businesses know that you have to pass cost increases to your customers that creates inflation and less economic growth. Higher skilled employess will rightfully demand increases as they provide a higher benefit then entry level lower skilled employees. This is the equivalent of 10% wage inflation factor in payroll taxes and insurance that are a percentage of wages. Our business does not pay minimum wage but in order to attract employees we have to be competitive and will have to raise our payrates to attract amd retain staff. At the end of the day if everyone gets a raise and the cost of everything goes up you do not change your standard of living. If you want more then poverty wages learn a skill that provides value to your employer and make yourself more valuable.

  7. John says:

    I am a permitted NJDEP class D recycling facility. We are part of the NJ Electronics Take Back Program. If u participate in this program it is written into law you can not charge consumers to recycle their electronic waste. My collection and recycling costs are subsidized by the electronic manufacturer. My contract with those manufacturers is set thru 2020. How do i cover new cost,free recycling,insurances,etc….

    As before,prior to a 3 year battle with our legislators and the manufacturers broken televisions will again start to appear in our forests,parks,lakes,and WMA’s.

    Free and convenient recycling has a tremendous cost.

  8. Jerry says:

    We own a small daycare. Payroll is already our largest cost. We will have to raise the cost to the customer to survive. Also, the children of single parents on state subsidies would disappear with the increases because they would no longer qualify for state funded day care. I was already struggling with the NJ rules and regs for daycare. This may be the nail in the coffin.

  9. Patp says:

    As a small business owner I will have to raise prices for my services. Separately as investment property owner I will also raise my rents for apartments. So how is this benefiting anyone but the government coffers benefiting from more sales tax on higher prices, and more income taxes. In which history shows us will be mis-managed and most likely wasted on over spending.

  10. Patrick Deo says:

    Our illustrious leaders in Trenton are forgetting the ripple effect. Employees currently making $15 will be looking for increases. Prices will go up to cover the cost. Related expenses to payroll will go up. Those who are for the increase speak of increasing the wages to provide ability to support a family. When are part time high school children and college students working in pizza parlors, restaurants, retail establishments, vacation establishments supporting a family. Minimum pay jobs should be viewed as entry level and motivation to move ahead not stay put.

  11. Michael Sparano says:

    I have already commented previously as a small business owner but has anyone thought about the effect on low income recipients? Maybe with the new higher wage they will not qualify for certain state funded programs such as Medicaid, CHIP etc.. The new higher wages may disqualify them for these programs and now be forced to pay for health insurance and other benefits. Do you really think that a few dollars more per hour is going to allow them to pay for these new benefits? I see this putting them into a worse financial situation. Maybe this is one of the thoughts behind the deal? Reduce the state’s budget for Medicaid, CHIP etc.. Hmmm.

  12. Dan says:

    They are just looking for more revenue. Leave the wages alone and just raise some other tax. Don’t hide under your social justice banner.

  13. George Mervine says:

    Regarding the proposed minimum wage increase that is waiting for the legislature’s approval and the governor’s signature, I find it simply amazing that our state elected officials can conveniently pass a law when so many NJ voters approved of a state Constitutional Amendment addressing the issue of Minimum Wages.

    Just five years ago in 2013, the legislature failed to have a minimum wage bill pass when it was vetoed by the governor. After revising their proposal to make it more appealing to voters, the legislature then decided to take their minimum wage increase to the people of NJ. We the voters and tax payers overwhelmingly approved of the legislature’s proposal and our State Constitution was then amended. We approved of small annual incremental increases in the minimum wage based on the consumer price index. Although not part of the final version, proposed language to the added Amendment reasoned that such increases were good for the protection of both employees and employers as ” the making of regular, annual cost-of-living adjustments in the minimum wage will benefit workers by reducing the impact of inflation on them and benefit employers by providing small, manageable, incremental increases in the minimum wage which will end the historic pattern of large, sudden, disruptive increases in the minimum wage in very short time periods in between long periods without increases.”

    Three years later in 2016, the legislature again tried to increase the minimum wage, this time to $15.00 per hour over a period of time, which again was vetoed by the governor. However, no legislative efforts this time to take their proposal to the NJ voters in an attempt to amend the previous Minimum Wage Constitutional Amendment. Why? Because the legislature knew that we the people would not have approved of such proposal. Therefore they waited out the process until a Democrat was elected governor, and now the legislature can freely do what they want.

    No matter what the impact the minimum wage increase will have on NJ businesses, I find it abhorrently unethical and blatantly unconstitutional what the legislature is about to do. Once the legislature engages the voters in the process of establishing how we are to be governed, once they engage us in achieving their objectives, how can they simply exclude us from the process to change what we approved 5 years ago? We the people approved of small incremental annual increases to the minimum wage. We did not approve anything resembling what is proposed today, an eventual increase in the minimum wage of approximately 70%! The legislature asked the voters of NJ to approve of their minimum wage proposal five years ago, and we did. We changed our State Constitution to address the minimum wage issue in NJ! Now that the amendment is part of our Constitution, how can the legislature simply pass a bill increasing the minimum wage and have it approved by the governor? Don’t we as voters have the opportunity to express our position on this issue, like we did five years ago? Both the legislature and the governor should table this proposed minimum wage increase, and take it to us the voters. Their decision to involve us with this issue five years ago has consequences, and one of the consequences is that you came to us before regarding the issue of minimum wage increases, you need to come back to us again. The legislature forfeited their right to change the minimum wage, once it became part of our Constitution.