Seven out of ten business leaders in New Jersey say amending the state Constitution to mandate annual raises to the state minimum wage would damage New Jersey's efforts to retain and attract businesses; and more than half (53 percent) said it would have a harmful effect on their business, according to the ParenteBeard - New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Summer Survey of business leaders.
This Election Day, Ballot Question No. 2 will ask New Jersey voters to consider such an amendment to the state Constitution, which, if approved, would lead to annual increases to the state minimum wage - in perpetuity - based on the nation's Consumer Price Index.
Exactly 71 percent of respondents in the business leader survey said approving that ballot question would undermine New Jersey's efforts to expand the economy. An even larger majority (84.3 percent) of the respondents said they did not believe the state Constitution should be used to decide matters of policy such as the minimum wage.
"The business community does not want to see the New Jersey Constitution used to institutionalize private sector decisions," said Thomas A. Bracken, president and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "If this ballot question is approved, annual raises would be automatically granted with no consideration to whether the economy is strong or weak, or whether the market warrants the increases. What is next? A ballot question on mandating prices?"
Two Proposals to Raise the Minimum Wage
Seven out of ten (72.9 percent) respondents said they prefer legislation that would increase the minimum wage by $1, phased in over three years, to $8.25 per hour (as proposed by Gov. Chris Christie). Only 27.1 percent said they prefer increasing the minimum wage by $1 per hour this year followed by annual increases tied to the CPI (as proposed by the Legislature). Only the Legislature's proposal to amend the Constitution is on the ballot for voters to consider on Nov. 5.
"Raising the minimum wage has a cascading effect on a business because workers making more than the minimum wage expect they too will see pay increases," said Walter Brasch, managing partner for ParenteBeard's New Jersey Metro Region. "We're talking about the most costly aspect of a business owner's budget - salary and benefits. Such decisions need be made thoughtfully, not automatically."
The annual ParenteBeard - New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Summer Survey is designed to focus on a single issue to measure the outlook of the state's business leaders, ranging from single entrepreneurs to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies in a wide array of fields. A total of 210 business leaders participated in the survey between July 31 and Aug. 14. Most said they are presidents and CEOs, or senior level executives.
Complete results can be found here.
About the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
The New Jersey Chamber of Commerce is a business advocacy organization that represents its members on a wide range of business and education issues. Based in Trenton, the organization also links the state's local and regional chambers on issues of importance through its grassroots legislative network.
ParenteBeard is ranked among the top 25 accounting firms in the U.S. With over 1,000 professionals, the firm is a leader in providing CPA and business advisory services to small businesses, middle market companies, nonprofits and SEC registrants. As an independent member of Baker Tilly International, ParenteBeard is proud to provide the highest level of service to clients nationally and internationally. For more information, visit http://www.parentebeard.com/