Worker groups call for hiking the minimum wage

TRENTON – Supporters of the minimum wage hike said it will help curb poverty and low grades, make for a fairer society, and stimulate the economy.

Beth Schroeder Assante of the New Jersey Education Association supports a minimum wage hike, either through a ballot question or through Legislative action. She said “persistent poverty” hurts student achievement, affecting cognitive development and increasing the likelihood that students wouldn’t finish college.

She said the minimum wage amounts to about $15,080 a year.

“This is far below the  poverty level for a family of three,” she told a Senate Labor Committee.

Dina Mattola of New Jersey Citizen Action  said when a minimum wage first went into place, it was considered a living wage to cover basic necessities.

“The minimum wage has not kept pace with inflation,” she said.

She said a study conducted by the Chicago Reserve Bank found a minimum wage hike serves as an economic stimulus.

Eric Richard of the state AFL-CIO called it “absolutely essential” to raise the minimum wage and remove politics from the issue, adding that low-income workers shouldn’t fall victim to the “volatility of the partisan environment.” He said between 2007 and 2011, 63,000 kids and 33,000 families fell into poverty, based on federal Census Bureau data. He said while the cost of such essentials as food and gasoline increased considerably, the state’s minum wage has remained at “poverty level” rates.

“This needs to change,” he said. “We have an opportunity to take a significant step forward.”

Sen. Fred Madden, (D-4), Tavestock, said that if the minimum wage kept pace with the rate of inflation, the wage today would be $9.20 an hour. Worker groups call for hiking the minimum wage