Fight for $15 in New Jersey is a Fight Against Teen Employment

New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has his sights set on gradually raising the state’s minimum wage from $8.60 to $15 an hour.  But many small business owners fear that customers will question whether it’s worth paying more for virtually the same customer experience.

“It would force us in the short-run to try to increase prices across the board,” said Scott Simpson, the owner of Playland Castaway Cove amusement park on the Ocean City boardwalk. For businesses who can’t pass higher costs on to their customers, they may be forced to cut their labor costs.

In a recent policy brief by the Employment Policies Institute, Drs. David Macpherson of Trinity University and William Even of Miami University use Census Bureau data to replicate the CBO methodology to determine that roughly 32,000 jobs would be lost should New Jersey raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The policy would disproportionately impact employees ages 16-19, who make up rougly one-third of the jobs lost.

These out-of-work New Jersey teenagers would be missing out on more than extra spending cash. A study from the Employment Policies Institute finds clear evidence that part-time work by young adults — both during senior year of high school, and during the summer months — translates to future career benefits that include higher hourly wages, increased annual earnings and less time spent out of work.