Interactive Map: The gap between the new N.J. minimum wage and a living wage?

1 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Interactive Map: The gap between the new N.J. minimum wage and a living wage?.

The increases, of course, are marginal at best. The hike in 2015 is a 1.59 percent increase over last year’s rate, which increased to $8.25 from $7.25 after voters approved the 2013 initiative pushed by the Democratic-controlled legislature.“If they work full-time, making 260 bucks more a year will be gratefully received but it won’t change their status,” he notes. “They’ll still be struggling and striving to survive in a very high cost place.”

That’s still far less than what Massachusetts Institute of Technology considers a living wage. (Getty Images) New Jersey workers are ringing in 2015 with a little bit more money in their pockets now that the minimum wage has risen to $8.38 on Jan. 1 from previous year’s $8.25. A report by the New Jersey Policy Perspective found that a “survival budget” in that state for a single person would require a wage of $13.78/hour. “That’s going to be unnoticeable, really,” Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, told the New York Times. “If you’re talking about an increase of a buck or two bucks, then maybe there’s some kind of noticeable effect.” But some states are getting more ambitious, passing laws that mandate wage increases in 2016, 2017, and even 2018. Last year, NJ.com made a map showing how that year’s $1 minimum wage hike was still well below the living wage, or the minimum amount needed to maintain a normal standard of living. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Arkansas, Hawaii, Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia’s minimum wage will be greater than the federal level for the first time.

On January 1 of every year from now on, the wage will increase based on the Consumer Price Index, which tracks inflation — unless there’s stagnation or deflation, in which case the wage will stay the same. “The point is that people are not going to fall further and further behind,” said Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who successfully pushed to enshrine the annual wage increase in state Constitution. The group predicts the 2015 wage increase will result in nearly $35 million in new economic activity and will affect some 176,000 people in the state. Alan Krueger, former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and an economics professor at Princeton, said New Jersey’s minimum wage helps the state’s lowest-paid workers keep up with the cost of living and that tying the wage to other costs frees policymakers to focus on other issues. But during the long periods between when the state raised its minimum wage above the federal floor, inflation increased while the lowest possible pay did not. “Think about all the years they waited to see an increase,” Sweeney said. “For me, it’s a life-changing accomplishment.

In a report Monday, the group suggested allowing local governments to set their own minimum wages above the state’s. “As a result, many workers in low-wage jobs rely heavily on the social safety net, through programs like Medicaid and food stamps, in addition to private charitable services throughout the state,” it said. Construction jobs have seen a decline of 4.5 percent compared to last year, while leisure and hospitality has seen a drop of 3.1 percent, according to Labor Department statistics.

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