New Jersey minimum wage holding steady for ’16

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New Jersey’s minimum wage will not be going up next year.

A constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2013 links annual minimum wage hikes to the rate of inflation. Since the consumer price index dipped slightly in the past year, the base pay will remain at $8.38 an hour.That will ease some cost pressures on employers, said Michele Siekerka, New Jersey Business and Industry Association president.

“I think it’s an opportunity for business to catch a breath in an economy that is continuing to rebound and grow slow and steady,” she said.

Brandon McCoy, an analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective, said it’s disappointing the minimum wage isn’t increasing.

“The boost of 13 cents last year was important but definitely not enough,” he said. “And people are still struggling to get by with day-to-day needs.”

The $8.38 an hour minimum amounts to about $17,000 a year, according to Rob Duffey with the New Jersey Working Families Alliance. He says that’s too low for a high cost state.

“That isn’t enough to cover the cost of rent, to cover the cost of groceries, heating,” he said. “A growing number of New Jerseyans are falling into poverty as the result of poverty wages and the only real way to prevent that is to raise the wage again.”

The alliance is urging lawmakers to raise base pay to as much as $15 an hour.

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