Effective January 1, 2014, New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase to $8.25. The increase comes after New Jersey voters approved an Amendment to the State’s Constitution that raises the current minimum wage and also ties future minimum wage increases to the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”), which measures fluctuations in the cost of living. Any future increases tied to the CPI will occur on September 30 of each year.
Governor Chris Christie vetoed previous attempts to increase the minimum wage, arguing that raising the wage to the then-proposed $8.50 and connecting future increases to the CPI would hurt small and medium businesses. Governor Christie instead proposed more modest increases to the minimum wage in the amounts of 25 cents this year, 50 cents in 2014, and 25 cents in 2015. In response, New Jersey legislature approved sending the issue directly to the voters in the form of a Constitutional Amendment, effectively bypassing Governor Christie’s veto.
Proponents of the Amendment argue that it will help guarantee workers sufficient wages to keep pace with increases in the cost of living. Critics have warned that a Constitutional Amendment leaves the State less flexible to react to future unexpected economic conditions and will discourage businesses from operating in New Jersey.