The $15-an-hour minimum wage issue is likely to be at the top of the legislative agenda after Phil Murphy is sworn in as governor on Tuesday. Rather than a singular focus on the hourly rate of the minimum wage, NJBIA’s Michele Siekerka advocates for a more comprehensive discussion of what it takes to lift the wages of a low skilled worker in this Bergen Record Op-ed.

“The most critical discussion revolves around workforce development and what is needed to improve the skills of low-wage workers so they can organically earn higher paychecks,” she writes. “After all, higher skills yield higher wages.”

Business owners have very real concerns about a $15 minimum wage.

In the 2018 Business Outlook Survey, 64 percent of respondents – mostly small business owners – said they will reduce staff, cut back hours, raise prices and/or automate operations if the wage increases so steeply.

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8 responses to “Michele Siekerka: Let’s Talk about the $15 Minimum Wage”

  1. Deb says:

    I have A pottery shop that hires high school and part time kids . I cant Afford to pay 15 . I would Close before i would Pay . It is an entry level positions i would Have to raise the manager who gets that now. Not fair to owners

    • Jim says:

      Let’s put some numbers to your situation. How many hours per week do these entry level people work? How many other employees hours per week? I am really curious.

      Right off of the top of my head, I was thinking that small retail shops would first get rid of credit cards and have cash only policies (maybe even accepting checks from “good” customers). That could make up the difference paid to wages. Credit cards cost ~$20,000 per $500K in sales. $20K covers 3,125 wage hours (60 hours per week) when adding the $6.4 increase to $15. The other solution is to raise prices. As the math just showed, if you have to cover three employees working 20 hours per week, you have to raise prices by 4% to cover the increase. Would consumers notice a 4% increase? I don’t know. That $2.50 slice of pizza would be $2.60.

      I think this won’t hit most retail situations that hard. Manufacturing will absorb the costs. I believe where the pain will be felt the most is where you need to have a lot of employees taking care of only a few people at a time. That means day care for kids and elderly would be the hardest hit industries. And they take care of the poor who can barely afford care now.

  2. I employ 1 full time and 1 part time person in our small printing company. . Each receives sick pay and vacation pay, but no health benefits. We pay the full timer $21.60 per hour and the part timer $20 per hour. Business has never been better. You get what you pay for

  3. Louis Grieco says:

    I own a small mfg. company We build to customers specs and work on bids/quotes for work.
    26 states are at federal min 7.25, we will be double + this means I can not compete with PA, NY and we are not counting all of the business that has moved to Mexico and China since 08.
    We are starting to make repairs and cleaning the building I own in NJ so that we can sell it and move out to PA or close.

  4. Suzanne Hanf says:

    Preschool/Childcare is expensive due to high property tax and outrageous insurance cost. Increasing staff to $15 per hour will only increase tuition. The middle class isn’t getting a raise to cover the increased tuition and the cost will not be affordable to those making $15 per hour.

  5. Janie says:

    I own a dog grooming salon in Northern NJ. I have 2 part time bathers. I could never afford to pay $15 an hour to a person that cannot groom. I pay myself $20 AN HOUR and i am the owner. I also could not raise my prices that high as my customers could not bear a 20 % price hike. I would have to close my doors after 18 years.

  6. If faced with a minimum wage of $15 many manufacturing companies will radically revise the way they do business, to the detriment of unskilled workers. It has been our practice to train new employees unique and highly specialized skills and during the initial 6 month training process the productivity of these trainees is very low. In a $15 an hour wage environment, we will either add overtime for higher skilled employees and forgo new hires, select new hires only from those with preexisting skill sets compatible with our business or have very limited patience with those trainees who do not progress very rapidly into highly productive workers. None of that is good for the unskilled.

  7. Jack O'Connor says:

    Retail, and particularly, food service and hospitality industries, are the most egregious under valuers of labor and quality of life issues. Historically they have compensated for increase costs of doing business or under performing sales by minimal paying of employees in salaries and benefits. It is time to realize that employees paid fair wages and benefits are an equal objective to business profits.
    Training ,productivity , marketing investments and smart business practices of all associates are an investment in a successful business. If all businesses have a basic level playing field, then a fair minimum wage is not an issue. Many in the retail industry, like Trader Joe, Costco and independents, have paid above average minimum wages and benefits and have been successful. If tomorrow FICA or sales taxes increased by 4%, good business people would find ways to be successful. That is not to say that we should not fashion a fair basic federal minimum wage by regions based on the cost of living in the regions and have temporary wage levels for entry persons or different wages for handicapped. persons