As a municipal government agency, Brick Township will not be directly affected by an increase to the state’s minimum wage signed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) this week, but the measure may still prompt the township to raise its pay scale for its lowest-paid employees.
“We are exempt from the state minimum wage laws; as a municipal entity we are required to follow the federal minimum wage guideline,” said Township Administrator Joanne Bergin. “So, while the dollar amount does not impact our budget, I expect it will impact our ability to fill these jobs if they can seek employment elsewhere and get paid more.”
Bergin said officials are considering revising the salaries for minimum wage jobs in the township going forward, though no ordinances or formal action has been proposed as of yet.
Murphy signed into law a bill approved by the state legislature that phases in an increase of the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The township’s concerns echo those of seasonal businesses – which were partially exempt from the phase-in – whose owners have said they may find it difficult to attract employees who would be paid more elsewhere.
Proponents of the minimum wage hike argue that the minimum wage should be a living wage, and is needed given the high cost of living in New Jersey. The current minimum wage in New Jersey is $8.85 per hour.
““For far too long, too many of our fellow New Jerseyans have been struggling to survive on wages that have not kept up with the cost of living,” said Murphy, in a statement. “I am incredibly proud to sign legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15 per hour, ensuring that the most vulnerable among us will have the means to put food on the table, while growing our economy and addressing priorities of the small business community.”
““In New Jersey there is no way a family can survive on $8.85 an hour,” said Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver. “Fair wages are about paying people enough to afford the rising costs of health care, education and the basic necessities in life.”
Brick, fortunately, has time to consider market conditions in order to set a rate that will be fiscally responsible.
“The state’s minimum wage increase is being phased in for full implementation ion 2024, so we have time to see if we indeed experience problems hiring,” Bergin said.