BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Business Report Plus: Murphy signs sweeping equal pay legislation

BY Rhonda Schaffler, Correspondent |
  • Murphy signs equal pay legislation
  • CWA NJ announces details of new contract
  • Newark releases details of Amazon bid
  • Subaru opens new Camden HQ, Mercedes-Benz heads for the door
  • Consumer spending reportedly growing slowly
  • Opening day for new AC casinos draws near

New Jersey made national headlines this week, as Gov. Murphy signed legislation that mandates equal pay for equal work. The new law makes it illegal to offer lower pay to women and minorities, and businesses would face tough penalties for failing to comply. Brenda Flanagan reported that supporters of the law believe it is the toughest in the nation.

Gov. Murphy has been far less vocal on another labor matter – the new contract reached between the administration and the 35,000 state workers represented by the Communication Workers of America. Union leaders have released some information about the deal on the CWA’s website, but we don’t yet know how much it will cost the state. The Murphy Administration says it won’t discuss terms of the deal, or what it will cost, until after union members approve it. We do know workers are getting pay raises, and will also receive retroactive step increases that former Gov. Chris Christie discontinued.

At long last, Newark is talking about it’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters. The city released its 200 page Amazon pitch after a New Jersey resident sued the city, seeking information about it. Newark suggested six potential headquarter sites including: Gateway Center, Mulberry Commons, Washington Park Campus, Lotus Riverfront, Matrix Riverfront and RBH SoMa.

The city also put together a website called “Yes, Newark” which includes a slick marketing video about the city. Amazon meantime had a lot to say this week about how well its business is doing. In its latest quarter, it’s revenue surged to $51 billion, sending its stock to an all-time high. But the company dropped no hints about the progress it’s making in its search for a second headquarters location.

It was a good news/bad news kind of week for the auto industry in New Jersey. On Friday, Subaru of America held a grand opening for its new headquarters in Camden. As Leah Mishkin reports, the city is eager to be part of Camden’s revitalization.

But as Subaru sets down roots, another car company is leaving the state entirely. Mercedes-Benz is in the process of moving its U.S. headquarters from Bergen County to Atlanta and will lay off workers in the Garden State. Mercedes-Benz filed a federal WARN notice that indicates 115 employees could lose their jobs this summer due to the move, although many of those workers will transfer to Atlanta. Mercedes-Benz, which has been in New Jersey since 1972, has been slowing moving operations out of state, citing cost reasons.

The entire auto industry has been undergoing a pretty significant shift as drivers are gravitating toward larger vehicles. In fact within just four years, one forecasting firm, LMC Automotive, predicts nearly three-quarters of all consumer vehicle sales will be utility vehicles. And that helps explain why Ford Motor – the company that brought America the Model T – is going to stop making most of its cars. Ford is planning to stop selling the Taurus, Fusion, Fiesta and C-Max, leaving only the Mustang and a larger version of its Focus brand.

Consumers are buying less, according to the latest report on the national economy. The GDP report, which is the broadest measurement of how the economy is doing, showed that consumer spending grew at its slowest pace in five years. Perhaps that helps explain why some New Jersey residents are feeling a bit uneasy about the economy. A Stockton University poll this week found less than half of the Garden State residents it surveyed rate the U.S. economy as excellent or good. They have an even dimmer view of the state’s economy. Just 21 percent rate it as good – but 48 percent say it’s just fair, and 27 percent call it poor.

Finally, what are the odds that two new Atlantic City casinos would open on the same day? Hard Rock officially announced June 28 as its opening date, and now The Press of Atlantic City is reporting that Ocean Resort will also open on June 28. Will it be a lucky coincidence?