Does New Jersey's Fight for $15 mean you'll be ordering fast food from kiosks?
New Jersey is the latest state to seriously consider legislation that would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The bill passed the State Assembly on May 26, 2016, and is now headed to the State Senate. Proponents of the measure are pushing forward despite promises made by Governor Christie to veto the bill if and when it comes across his desk. See PolitickerNJ.
Critics of the minimum wage measure say that it would hurt small businesses and not-for-profits. McDonalds, a veteran in the Fight for 15 war (on the national scale), has cautioned that unions and others pushing for an increased minimum wage should be careful what they ask for because they just might get it. According to Mickey D's, if they have to pay employees $15 per hour, you might soon be telling a kiosk that you want fries with your order instead of making that request to an industrious teenager saving up for her college education. See Forbes.
New Jersey already has a minimum wage of $8.38 per hour (which remains in place for 2016), and is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Even if the Legislature does not enact the $15 an hour measure, existing law provides that New Jersey's minimum wage will eventually go up (barring a national catastrophe) because it rises along with percentage increases to the relevant Consumer Price Index (CPI). See NJDOL letter.
No matter which side you fall on the minimum wage issue, there is no question that governmental intercession in the labor market is going to force employers to reevaluate and closely monitor their labor force allocation and pay practices. This is particularly the case in light of recent changes by the US Department of Labor to make more workers overtime eligible, which will result in many salaried workers being changed to hourly. Compound a higher minimum wage with overtime and one of two things is going to happen to cash-strapped employers: cut jobs or go out of business. Neither proposition is very encouraging. Keep an eye on the Plosia Cohen LLC blog for updated developments.