As with so many other progressive measures vetoed at least once by lame-duck Trump supporter Gov. Chris Christie, Democrats in the State House who want to raise the minimum wage in the state are laying the groundwork now but waiting to make a move until January, when Christie is out and, one hopes, a Democrat sits in the gubernatorial chair.
Last year Christie vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in New Jersey gradually from its current $8.44 per hour to an eventual $15 per hour in 2024.
New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates that 688,000 minimum-wage workers in the state, plus an additional 481,000 who would earn more when the base is increased, would be affected by the change. Most would be of prime working age: 25 to 54.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that in New Jersey a worker needs to make an hourly minimum of $25.17 just to rent a two-bedroom apartment. In Sussex County, a single adult with no dependents needs $13.80 per hour just to provide the necessities.
In Sussex County, reports the United Way, 30 percent of household as economically “struggling”: more than 12,000 households are known as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, otherwise known as the working poor), and an additional 3,568 live below the poverty level.
Meanwhile, the state’s representatives in Washington are also making the case for a hike in the federal minimum wage, $7.44, although no one expects the current administration to be receptive.
“This is about real people; it’s about folks in my community,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told reporters. “We’re going to continue this fight until we get justice.”