Minimum Wage Roundup

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Here is a look at some of this week’s minimum wage stories from around the country. The American Booksellers Association is encouraging its members to reach out to town, county, or state officials to ensure they have a voice in any minimum wage discussions that take place in their communities.

New Jersey: Bill to Increase Minimum Wage Moves Forward

On Monday, May 16, the New Jersey Senate Labor Committee advanced a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021, as reported by the Associated Press.  While the bill is supported by unions, both business groups and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have said the increase will result in higher prices for goods, AP reported. The state’s minimum wage is currently $8.38 per hour.

The legislation being advanced would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2017, then increase it annually through 2021, and the AP reported that the wage would go up by $1.25 or $1 plus “an amount adjusted for inflation, whichever is greater.”  

In separate news conferences, the AP article noted, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Senate President Steve Sweeney lauded the legislation. “If you put in a hard day’s work, you should get fair pay,” Prieto said at his conference, while Sweeney stressed: “Working people need and deserve to be paid a living wage for their labor.” 

Proponents for the $15 per hour minimum wage contend that the state’s high cost of living warrants the increase and would raise wages for nearly one million workers. Meanwhile, business groups, including the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, said the increase would have a ripple effect, with workers who already make $15 per hour or more asking for similar increases.

The bill will now go to the Senate for a full vote, while the Assembly is expected to consider it by week’s end.

Ohio: Cleveland Takes Up Minimum Wage Increase Debate

After union members submitted petitions to the city demanding that it take up the minimum wage issue, Cleveland city council members are mulling over a proposal that would increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, as reported by Fox 8 Cleveland. The city does not have a set minimum wage, so it abides by the state minimum wage, which is $8.10 per hour.

Council member Brian Cummins told Fox 8 that he favors increasing the minimum wage, stipulating that phasing in an increase would have a better chance of passing, while business groups told council members that the increase would result in job losses and potentially the closure of businesses in the city.