Voters heading to the polls in November will decide on a constitutional amendment that would raise New Jersey’s minimum wage every year based on inflation. Many in the business community are against such a move, including National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) State Director Laurie Ehlbeck. She told NJ Today Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor that yearly minimum wage hikes could cost New Jersey 31,000 jobs and $4.2 billion in revenue.
While Ehlbeck said an increase in minimum wage could cause a short-term boost to the economy, there may be long-term consequences. “We believe that over the course of 10 years, 31,000 jobs, or opportunities for jobs, could be lost,” she said. “It might help some workers, but ultimately more workers are gonna have the opportunity to lose their jobs.”
A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll found that 76 percent of voters favor raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.25, but Ehlbeck said that’s because they’ve only heard one side of the story. “Our goal within the next few months is to show them the other side of the story. We believe that jobs ultimately will be lost,” she said.
CEO Magazine ranked New Jersey 46th in the nation for its business climate. Ehlbeck said increasing the minimum wage would make it even less friendly to business owners. “I think that entrepreneurs would think twice about opening up a business in New Jersey or growing their business in New Jersey,” she said.
Ehlbeck said New Jersey is highly regulated and has high taxes, which makes it unfriendly for businesses. Adding an increase in the minimum wage would be another unfriendly element, she said.
Some legislators, including Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, are attempting to pass the New Jersey Opportunity Act, which would help to attract and keep businesses in the Garden State. Ehlbeck isn’t completely sold on that idea, however.
“Business incentives are something that could be done to help businesses, but I think that really what would help would be just to relieve the tax burden and the regulatory burden for businesses,” she said.