Plan to increase N.J. minimum wage advances

An Assembly committee has advanced legislation to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage.

The current $7.25 an hour minimum wage in the Garden State has not gone up in nearly three years. The measure that’s cleared the Assembly Labor Committee Thursday would boost it to $8.50 an hour and then adjust it every year based on the Consumer Price Index.

Newark resident Lakisha Williams has a minimum wage job as a wheelchair assistant at Newark Airport. She says it’s not enough to support herself and her 12-year-old daughter.

“Because my employers pay me so little, I get government assistance to help cover my rent and also get food stamps and Medicaid from welfare,” Williams said. “I don’t want to have to do that. I want to be able to support my family on my own.”

The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and businesses oppose the measure. Joe Olivo, who owns Perfect Printing in Moorestown, said an increase would pose a burden.

“In the current economy growing your sales to make up for these additional government mandated expenses is not guaranteed,” Olivo said. “Raising my wage base will cause me to look for ways to reduce my expenses by limiting overtime or potentially reducing staffing levels.”

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, is seeking bipartisan support for the minimum wage increase as it moves to the full Assembly. The Senate has not yet considered the bill

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