Increased state minimum wage benefits working students

by John Musso
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Junior Erica Berkowitz works as a lifeguard at the Robert Wood Johnson Fitness Center pool in Scotch Plains. Berkowitz is one of thousands of New Jersey workers who received a pay raise to $8.25 an hour as a result of a new minimum wage law in New Jersey effective Jan.1. According to The New York Times, 24 percent of all minimum wage workers are between 16 and 19 years old. The increase was put to the public by a ballot measure, which passed on Nov. 5 with 61 percent of the vote. Opponents of the increase, many of whom are small-business owners, stated that an increase in the cost of labor would lead to layoffs and jobs lost for the state. Supporters of the new law argued that the increase was necessary due to New Jersey’s high cost of living and that the current minimum wage was far too low for workers to make ends meet. “I understand why opponents of the new law dislike it, but when you actually work for minimum wage, you gain a whole new perspective on it,” said Berkowitz, a supporter of the law.