Senator Sweeney On The Federal Minimum Wage Increase

THOROFARE – Senator Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem, who chairs the Senate Labor Committee, released the following statement regarding today’s 70-cent increase in the federal minimum wage, from $5.15 to $5.85:

“This increase on the federal level is the first of its kind in over a decade, and I’m sure that workers nationwide are welcoming the increase in their paychecks. I think the Federal government saw that the previous amount of $5.15 wasn’t taking into consideration the increased costs of living, and raised the minimum wage to an amount that is a little more reflective of what is needed to cover the costs of raising a family in today’s world.

“While the Federal increase is a good thing, I also believe that more can be done to help minimum wage earners.

“In order to ensure that the minimum wage amount reflects what is needed to allow workers to be self-sufficient, it is necessary that the Federal and State governments study increases in cost of living and taxes. Back in 2005, I introduced legislation which has since become law to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15, an amount which takes into account the State’s high cost of living and property taxes. The law also included the creation of the New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission to annually evaluate the State’s minimum wage and issue reports detailing recommendations for necessary wage increases.

“I am proud to say that the $2 increase helped New Jersey secure its place as one of the top States in the nation in providing a realistic minimum wage for its residents.

“Today’s federal increase is a step in the right direction, but I believe that more research should be done on the adequacy of the minimum wage. Without constant scrutiny and the flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing economy, we’re dooming minimum wage earners to a lifetime of poverty, and never allowing them the option of attaining the American Dream of self-sufficiency.