New Jersey voters will decide in November whether the state minimum wage should be raised. The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll finds that the measure should pass by a wide margin as few voters believe this increase will have a negative impact on the state’s economy.
The November ballot measure asks Garden State voters to approve a constitutional amendment to raise the current minimum wage to $8.25 an hour and to incorporate annual cost of living increases in the future. Currently, 65% of registered voters say they will vote in favor of this measure. Just 12% say they will vote against it. Another 22% are undecided. Support comes from majorities of Democrats (74%), independents (63%), and Republicans (54%).
A coalition of business groups has been running ads to defeat the measure, saying that creating this initial wage increase and locking in future increases will actually hurt low-wage workers by leading to the loss of thousands of jobs. New Jersey voters disagree with this view by a large two-thirds (67%) majority. Only 23% of voters side with the business community that raising the minimum wage will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.
“The minimum wage amendment is set to pass by a substantial margin. New Jersey voters simply do not accept the business community’s prediction of dire consequences,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Another argument against the minimum wage amendment is that it will be bad for New Jersey’s small businesses. Garden State voters are divided on the impact, although only a third say it will be decidedly negative. While 33% agree that the wage hike will hurt small businesses, another 26% say it will actually help small businesses and 33% say it will have no impact. Interestingly, a majority (52%) of Republicans say raising the minimum wage will hurt the state’s small businesses, even though a majority (54%) of the same group also say they will support the measure. Just 34% of independents and 22% of Democrats feel that small businesses will be hurt by the wage hike.
Even though it looks like the minimum wage amendment will be approved, the new rate will still fall below the inflation-adjusted rate from the late 1960s. Back then, the minimum wage’s buying power was the equivalent of about $10.50 by today’s standards. The poll asked about voter support of this wage level – without mentioning the inflation-adjusted comparison – and found that 41% of New Jersey voters would support raising the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour compared to 31% who would oppose this higher level. Another 28% have no opinion.
Recent demonstrations by fast-food workers have called for raising the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. This would be a no-go for New Jersey voters. Only 16% would support a $15.00 minimum wage.
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press Poll was conducted by telephone with 674 New Jersey registered voters from September 6 to 10, 2013. This sample has a margin of error of + 3.8 percent. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the Asbury Park Press and its sister publications (Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).