Sitting on Governor Christie's desk is legislation to increase New Jersey's minimum wage by $1.25 to $8.50, the first increase since 2005. Governor Christie should sign the bill today and, in the process, lift many thousands of struggling New Jersey residents out of poverty.
According to New Jersey Policy Perspective, if the minimum wage were increased to $8.50 per hour, about 537,535 New Jersey workers would receive an average raise of $816. Increasing take-home pay is one simple way to help grow our economy and ensure that hard-working families and individuals are not living in or near poverty.
In 2007, after a decade of stagnant wages for working families, I successfully fought to increase the minimum wage nationwide to $7.25. But five years have since passed, and we now need to take further steps to encourage broad-based wage growth, which will ensure that our economy takes advantage of the talents of the entire population.
The bill now on Governor Christie's desk would mark an important step forward for New Jersey workers, but it would apply only within our state's borders. Congress should also act at the federal level to raise the minimum wage nationwide. I am an original cosponsor of Fair Minimum Wage Act to increase the federal minimum wage over three years from $7.25 to $9.80 per hour.