For every action, there is an equal and contrary reaction. That is what my high school Physics teacher taught me. That premise also applies to politics and proves the laws of unintended consequences.
New Jersey has a ballot question to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour, up from $7.25. At face value, the concept seems like legislation with good intentions. The measure is a constitutional amendment that calls for automatic yearly increases based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Those in favor of the measure play to the emotions stating $7.25 is not a living wage. In NJ, making $100,000 a year is not a living wage when you take out taxes, property taxes and the high cost of living. However, most people earning $7.25 are not the main income earner in the household. Most employees earning minimum wage are teenagers. Those who oppose the measure make silly end-of-the-business-world predictions if it passes.
I do not like having government make a business decision like wages. I thoroughly do not like tying such a decision to the state’s constitution and having annual increases in perpetuity with the CPI. I doubt businesses will move to Delaware to avoid paying an extra dollar per hour but increasing the minimum wage will have an effect.
Small business owners will not hire as much as they initially planned. That is simply common sense. More importantly, however, I think forcing annual increases to the minimum wage as a matter of constitutional due course may have an unintended consequence. Small business owners will look towards automation and eliminate the need for people.
Fast food franchise owners may implement an automated way to make hamburgers and replace people. Retail outlets will push online ordering. And, gasp, gas stations will move towards self-service. People –especially savvy business owners – always find ways to improve margins.
The intent of raising the minimum wage is good. The unintended consequence will make it worse for the very people the bill is trying to help.