Well, New Jersey’s jobs recovery is moving in slow motion, executive confidence is weaker than shares in Facebook and the economic rebound is showing about as much pep as Rip Van Winkle. In other words, in Trenton, it’s a grand time to tell executives how to run their businesses.
The Assembly recently passed A-2162, a bill to increase the minimum wage in New Jersey from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, over the cries of business associations that are quick to label it a jobs killer. Forcing restaurant and retail owners to raise wages, they argue, will stall recovery and give executives pause when it comes to deciding whether to create jobs.
Actually, we feel a conversation about increasing the minimum wage would be a good thing. Higher salaries typically translate into more spending, which could offer a boost to both restaurateurs and retailers. And it would provide relief to the lower class that won’t see much of an impact from a 10 percent cut to the state’s progressive income tax.
But that doesn’t make now the time to have this discussion.
Unemployment remains worrisome, with reports that New Jersey will trail the nation in adding jobs, and each month we’re treated to an exciting political slugfest when the state misses its revenue. The latest bit of news — that the governor will borrow more than $250 million from the Transportation Trust Fund to pay for the proposed income tax cut — demonstrates the kind of perspective that got us into the morass from which we’re struggling so mightily to escape.
Businesses have to adjust to the challenges of the current climate to grow. That task is made all the harder when they’re dealing with politics, as well. A higher minimum wage, while noble and possibly beneficial in the long term, could be disastrous in the near term. This one needs to be put on the shelf for now.