On Tuesday, New Jersey voters will weigh in on a ballot question that, if passed, would amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 and set it to automatically increase with inflation.
Polls show big support for the measure. A Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll found 65 percent planning to vote for it, with 12 percent planning to vote against. A Rutgers poll found 76 percent in support and 22 percent against.
The ballot question comes after Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill that would have raised the state minimum wage to $8.50 and automatically increased it with inflation. Democrats took the question to the voters in response.
If the measure passes, New Jersey would be the eleventh state to adopt automatic increases to its minimum wage through either cost of living adjustment formulas or indexing it to inflation. Eighteen states and Washington, DC have minimum wages that are above the federal floor of $7.25 an hour.
The states with automatic increases differ sharply from the federal government, where the minimum wage does not rise with inflation. It’s been stuck at its current level for four years. In fact, if it had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, it would be $10.40 an hour.
But increasing the minimum wage would give the economy a big boost. A study from the Chicago Federal Reserve found that raising it to $9 an hour would increase household spending by about $48 billion, or a .3 percent increase in GDP. Raising it to $10.10 an hour would lift nearly 6 million workers out of poverty. While Christie opposed raising his state’s minimum wage by saying it would be bad for the economy, several studies have shown that raising it doesn’t have a negative effect on employment and might even help boost job growth. A raise would also have a big impact on women and people of color.