In today’s world, the primary beneficiaries of minimum wage increases are not teenagers. Instead they are adults and parents who are trying to meet their monthly rent, food and health care expenditures. Research on the minimum wage finds job losses associated with modest increases to the minimum wage are small – if they are present at all. Further, an increase does not trigger a spike in inflation and minimum wage increases are more likely to occur during times of plenty.
These rationales played a key role in getting New Jersey, along with 28 other states and the District of Columbia to increase their minimum wages above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Unfortunately, these rationales have become less persuasive in efforts to increase our state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. At $8.44 per hour, our state’s minimum wage is far below peer states like New York, Connecticut, and California that have a similar cost of living. Further, Massachusetts has also passed a higher wage, and most recently two states with Republican administrations have done the same.