By Sherrina Navani
TRENTON -- Mercer County residents may be one step closer to making more money.
The Freeholder Board passed a resolution Thursday evening, supporting a ballot question to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.50 an hour.
“I think it is a reality that we must increase the minimum wage,” said Freeholder Board President John Cimino. “The minimum wage right now is $15,000 a year, by increasing the amount we are adding an additional $2,000 a year which will be put right back into the economy.”
Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a minimum wage increase in January, citing that the increase which would be tied to future hikes in the rate of inflation and would hurt the state’s economy. “The sudden, significant minimum-wage increase in this bill, coupled with automatic raises each year tied to the Unites States Consumer Price Index, will jeopardize the economic recovery we all seek,” Christie said in January when he conditionally vetoed the bill to the Democrat-controlled Legislature.
The adoption of the resolution by the County Board of Freeholders Thursday evening affirms the State’s Legislature’s action to place the minimum wage increase question before voters this November.
As the cost of living in New Jersey continues to rise the resolution hopes to help workers keep pace. Throughout the country only 19 other states and Washington D.C. currently maintain a minimum wage higher than the national average of $7.25. The increase to income would also increase consumer purchasing power, increase standards of living and eventually stimulate the economy, according to the resolution.
A 2011 study by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank confirms the “trickle down” theory. For every dollar increase in the minimum wage, there is a $2800 increase in consumer spend per household, in the following year, according to the study. Additionally, post-results of the study revealed an increase in spending in the local economy helps stimulate demand for local goods and services, requiring local business to increase their need for employees.
According to the NJ Policy Perspective 429,000 workers earn at or near the minimum wage, of those workers more than half, or 254,000, are either Hispanic, Black or Asian.
Ordinances passed by the board, during Thursday night’s meeting, appropriated over $33 million spend for various capital improvements throughout the county. Mercer County Bonds, up to $29,033,976, will be issued to help cover the costs of the improvement projects.