A study released the other day by a business lobbying group has found that the state could lose thousands of jobs if the minimum wage is increased and indexed to inflation -- a claim wage-hike supporters say is misleading.
What the business groups who funded the study argue is that the wage hike will increase costs to businesses and that businesses, in turn, will cut back on hours and jobs.
There is a certain logic to this -- except that the studies are not conclusive on this and, despite what the business lobby says, indicate that the cutbacks rarely happen.
Part of the reason for this, supporters say, is that putting money in the pockets of low-income workers ends up putting money back into businesses, which offsets the increased cost of manpower. Again, the studies are not conclusive.
What is conclusive, it seems to me, is that it is impossible to live on the current minimum wage in New Jersey and, while a $1 an hour increase will only offer nominal help, it will add a bit more of a cushion to the income of the men and women who are working at or near the minimum wage. The issue, as I see it, is one of fairness and the economic arguments are only a side show.
Here is my story in NJ Spotlight on the study and the debate.
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