Action underway or expected in Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota and other states
For Immediate Release: November 6, 2013
Contact: Bob Keener, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-610-6766
Business leaders applauded as New Jersey strongly approved a minimum wage increase and called for more action at the state and federal level. “Voters have given New Jersey a raise, boosting businesses and workers, and building momentum for overdue state and federal increases,” said Holly Sklar, Director of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage. “At $7.25, the minimum wage has less buying power now than it did in 1950. New Jersey joins New York, Connecticut and California in taking action this year to raise their state minimums while the federal minimum wage is stuck in the past.”
Ballot and legislative initiatives to raise the minimum wage are underway or expected next year in numerous states such as Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Minnesota. The Fair Minimum Wage Act introduced earlier this year in Congress would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 – closer to its historic inflation-adjusted value – and then adjust it annually for the rising cost of living.
Mitch Cahn, President of Unionwear, a manufacturer with 120 employees in Newark, NJ, said, “A higher minimum wage will actually help business owners by reducing absenteeism and worker turnover, which costs businesses way more than nickel and diming on wages. Secure workers earning a living wage are more productive workers and better consumers. A higher minimum wage just makes fiscal sense.”
“Raising the minimum wage addresses the largest problem business leaders see with today’s economy: weak consumer demand,” said David Levine, CEO of the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which with its member organizations represents more than 200,000 businesses across the country. “We look forward to other states increasing their minimum wage and to passage of the federal Fair Minimum Wage Act so that we can strengthen our economy for sustainable job creation.”
“An increased minimum wage is smart economics for workers and businesses alike,” said Dan Preston, co-owner of Telequest Inc. in Princeton, NJ, who traveled around the state interviewing small business owners and produced a pro bono video supporting the minimum wage increase. He noted, “The costs of higher wages are offset through greater consumer demand, increased employee productivity and substantial savings from reduced employee turnover, for example.”
New Jersey’s minimum wage will increase from $7.25 to $8.25 on January 1 and then will be adjusted annually with the rising cost of living, something ten other states already do. When state minimum wages with indexing to inflation were on the ballot in six states in 2006, all the measures passed, building strong momentum for a federal increase the next year.
“Our state increase is a long overdue step in the right direction,” said Kelly Conklin, Co-owner of Foley Waite Associates, a woodworking firm in Kenilworth, NJ, and a Steering Committee member of the New Jersey Main Street Alliance. “It’s time we reinforced the better business model of businesses that pay a living wage. Raising the wage floor while insuring raises in the future is the best way to do that.”
* Business owners available for interview in addition to those quoted above. *
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. www.businessforafairminimumwage.org