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NJBIA President & CEO Michele N. Siekerka, Esq., issued the following statement today with New Jersey’s minimum wage set to increase to $11 per hour for most workers on Jan. 1, 2020, the next step toward the phase-in of a $15 minimum wage by Jan. 1, 2024.

“As New Jersey’s minimum wage progresses, we continue to see what was always anticipated – businesses making necessary adjustments to afford the cost of their labor.

“Of course, employers who can afford to pay a $15 an hour minimum wage or more to their workforce, will do so. Other smaller businesses, with their slimmer profit margins impacted by a higher minimum wage and other costly workplace mandates, will need to raise prices or reduce staff, hours or benefits to accommodate these added expenses.

“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 is supporting bipartisan legislation that provides for the suspension of scheduled minimum wage increases due to an economic downturn, particularly as Standard & Poor’s has reported that New Jersey is one of 15 states at an elevated risk for fiscal distress during the next recession. As California and New York have each enacted economic off-ramps from their incremental, $15 minimum wage policies, it is purely responsible that New Jersey follows this sensible precedent.

“NJBIA also continues to support a proposal for tax credits to employers hiring workers under 18 years old, who are now increasingly at risk of not being hired with a higher pay rate. We are also advocating for legislation establishing a task force to study the impact of minimum wage increases on businesses.

“Expecting smaller businesses to simply continue to incur added expenses without knowing the full ramifications of a $15 minimum wage, particularly during an economic downturn, is not only unfair, but unsustainable.”

See NJBIA’s Fast Facts on the Minimum Wage law here for more information about the law’s provisions.