Minimum wage rising to $8.85; poll says go further, but not $15
New Jersey’s minimum wage goes up by 25 cents an hour on Jan. 1, reaching $8.85.
Nearly three-fourths of New Jersey adults support increasing it further, according to new Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll results, though not quite as high as the $15 goal set by Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders.
FDU poll director Krista Jenkins said the support for a higher minimum wage is consistent with what was measured two and a half years ago.
“On the one hand, the public very much supports what the governor is trying to do. But they are off a little bit by what they think the actual rate should be,” Jenkins said.
The average minimum wage suggested by residents to an open-ended question was $12.47, up by 61 cents since the question was asked in 2016.
“It is interesting that when people are given an opportunity to say what they think the average minimum wage should be, the average does in fact come in lower than what is being proposed by policymakers in Trenton,” she said.
Democrats, on average, suggested a $13.01 minimum wage, which was 91 cents higher than their average answer in February 2016. Republicans’ suggestions averaged $11.09 an hour, or a penny more than in 2016.
New Jersey’s minimum wage was raised to $8.25 an hour when voters approved a constitutional amendment tying future increases to the rate of inflation.
It has inched up since to $8.60. The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development has calculated that it will increase by 25 cents an hour in 2019, reflecting a 2.88 percent increase in the consumer price index in the 12 months ending in August 2018.
Most people, 67 percent, are still OK with a hike in the minimum wage even if it that means higher prices for goods and services, the poll shows.
But people draw a line at a minimum wage that causes employers to lay off or hire fewer workers, with just 43 percent then in favor of raising the wage and 50 percent opposed.
“So on this particular condition, we do see support for raising the minimum wage certainly fall below a majority,” Jenkins said.
Murphy’s approval ratings ticked up 8 points since the last FDU poll, with 49 percent of adults saying he’s doing a good job and 31 percent disapproving. Jenkins said it’s a welcome sign for Murphy but that the governor hasn’t yet been tested by crisis.
“I mean, it’s still fairly early in his administration. There has not been, I think, any major setbacks or losses for the governor,” Jenkins said. “And so at this point, I think people want to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at email@example.com.