The state director for the New Jersey branch of the National Federation of Independent Business issued a statement today urging Governor Chris Christie to resist raising the state’s minimum wage.
Laurie Ehlbeck told CNBC.com that an increase in the minimum wage would discourage job creation at a time when small businesses are still gaining their footing after a weathering a tough economic climate.
“We understand how tough it is for people to live on a small income,” said Ehlbeck. “But a raise in the minimum wage could actually curb hiring. And it would prevent small businesses from being able to offer health care. Because they are required to pay more doesn’t mean there is more revenue there to pay people.”
New Jersey, one of the most expensive states in which to live, currently sets the minimum wage at $7.25, which is also the federally mandated wage. The proposed hike would raise the minimum wage $1.25 to $8.50 per hour.
The New Jersey NFIB counts 10,000 businesses as members; the average business has less than 10 employees, according to Ehlbeck.
A national survey of NFIB members in December showed an increase in optimism among small business owners, who expect to see increased sales, and hiring in 2012. “There is reason to be optimistic in New Jersey,” said Ehlbeck. “Our governor has said he will not support any additional taxes or fees. For small business, that is huge. But as far as the health of small businesses, we aren’t seeing a great comfort level. Not yet.”
For his part, according to Ehlbeck, Christie said that while he will listen to legislators who support the minimum wage hike, he is not inclined to support it, saying he is concerned about making it more difficult for employers to hire.