By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Life is about to get a little bit better for low wage workers in New Jersey.

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum Tuesday to raise the State’s minimum wage to $8.25 from the prevailing rate of $7.25 an hour beginning January next year.

About half-a-million workers in New Jersey would benefit from this wage increase — that’s about 11 percent of the state’s work force and another 188,000 workers will be indirectly affected as pay scales are adjusted upwards.

Server Nicole Centron who makes $7.50 an hour at an ice cream shop in Downtown Jersey City says this increase would make a big difference in her life.

“In the long run,” Centron said, “I’d be living comfortably and I’ll be able to put away more money than I normally was with a $7.50 pay, definitely.”

For many Filipino workers directly affected by the wage increase, they would get an annual raise of about $980 each.

“Everyone complains because costs go up but salaries don’t, it’s a really big help,” store administrative assistant Mariella Avery said, “I send money to the Philippines so that dollar helps.”

Another store administrative assistant, Justine Decello said, “I think that dollar would help me with my tuition. It would help me to pay off the tuition that I owe the government.”

New Jersey’s economy is expected to benefit from this $1 minimum wage increase, according to the New Jersey Policy Perspective.

With more than $276 Million in total wage increases for all New Jerseyans affected – the increased consumer spending would result to a total GDP impact of about $175 Million according to the Economic Policy Institute.

During his last State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said that no one should live in poverty in the US and he called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to 9 dollars an hour.

But Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said that the minimum wage increase would reduce employment and increase poverty saying that this will force employers to pay low-end workers more than they’re worth and would result to more unemployed workers.

New Jersey resident Esmer Payuyo said, “This minimum wage should really be national. It’s going to help, but it should be more.”

Minimum wage workers will also get an automatic annual cost-of-living increase because of a constitutional amendment.

The amendment makes New Jersey the 11th state to provide automatic cost-of-living increases tied up to inflation rates and it becomes one of the nation’s top 10 states with the highest minimum wage rates.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • ceasar
    15 November 2013 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    maybe that was a part of the pork barrel lol

  • JD
    16 November 2013 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Good for New Jersey they raised the minimum wage by $1 ! Other states maybe can raise they minimum wage like New Jersey ? $1 dollar is still low, but it’s better to have a rise or don’t have anything at all !