No Minimum Wage Increase in New Jersey - it will cause hardship for everyone

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This petition, which includes facts on how the minimum wage increase will negatively affect all tax paying citizens, will be sent to the Governor:

On behalf of all the citizens of the State of New Jersey, including the tens of thousands of small business owners working in the New Jersey green industry, including agriculturalists, landscapers, golf course superintendents, nursery, sod and greenhouse growers, sports field managers, irrigation contractors, turfgrass professionals, arborists, pest managers, pool and spa contractors and more, we respectfully request that you change your position on the minimum wage increase that you recently introduced before the Assembly and Senate during your budget address.

New Jersey should not raise the minimum wage from its current rate of $8.60 per hour to $11.00 per hour, and ultimately to $15.00 per hour.  This will cause undue hardship to all tax paying citizens statewide.

The trickle-down effect of this legislation will negatively affect millions in the State of New Jersey.  Everything from the cost of food and automotive fuel, to entertainment and insurance rates will increase because of this increase in the minimum wage.  Salaries of unskilled employees, who may currently make $12 per hour, will be raised to $15 per hour, forcing higher level employee salaries to increase along with them.  It will lead to a loss of jobs, as more employers turn to automation to handle their needs. Less hiring will occur, as small businesses will no longer be able to hire as many employees.  And the very thing that raising the minimum wage is meant to do, help those who are in or near poverty, will be hurt the most! The skilled workers will be applying for the same minimum wage positions as the unskilled workers, pushing those unskilled workers right out of the market.

For the green industry as a whole, this legislation will not only require companies to reduce their workforce, putting both skilled and unskilled laborers into unemployment, it will also greatly reduce the amount of taxes generated by our companies and paid to the state, due to an increase in pricing which will result in the reduction in sales. In addition, an increase in the minimum wage will require these green industry companies to lose contracts and put additional pressure on an industry that is already working on very tight margins.  Just as importantly, raising the minimum wage will increase the cost of agricultural products. Ultimately, this will reach grocery stores, restaurants, hotels and more. And as we all know, increased wages will also raise unemployment taxes and workers’ comp insurance, creating an additional burden to employers.

These negative minimum wage effects will continue on to other businesses that work in conjunction with the green industry. Businesses such as automotive sales and service providers, equipment sales, rental and repair shops, insurance providers, banking, accountants, printers and gas stations will all experience cost increases. Moreover, the impact of a minimum wage increase to these supporting industries will be even more significant since they will have to absorb additional costs while also experiencing the inevitable reduction in sales.

A minimum wage increase will also cause the greenhouse and garden center industries to raise prices on goods such as plant material, tools, fertilizer, grass seed and mulch, just to name a few. Nursery growers will also have to raise the costs of trees and shrubs, creating an additional financial burden to landscape professionals and the consumers who purchase and use those products.

According to the most recent (May 2016) U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Occupational Employment Statistics, section 37-3011 Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers, there are 29,210 people in New Jersey who work in the industry, performing a variety of tasks, which may include any combination of the following: sod laying, mowing, trimming, planting, watering, fertilizing, digging, raking, sprinkler installation, and installation of mortarless segmental concrete masonry wall units.

New Jersey’s nursery , greenhouse, and sod sector accounts for over $400 million in sales annually, according to the most recent National Agricultural Statistics Service Census of Horticulture.

While other businesses will be able to avoid the cost of a minimum wage increase by automating some of their work, the green and its supporting industries will be forced to bear the brunt of these proposals. Unlike restaurants and retail stores, a kiosk can’t cut a lawn or trim a tree, so we will be forced to pass these costs on to our customers or go out of business. What further concerns us, is that many of the services our members offer are considered to be a luxury, and customers will likely cut back or eliminate using our services if we are forced to substantially increase our prices. This will have a trickle-down effect as companies may have to lay-off employees and cutback on the purchase of products – which will have a negative impact on New Jersey’s economy.

Based on the above noted reasons, for the sake of your constituents, including the green industry and the thousands of families it supports, we kindly ask that New Jersey does not raise the minimum wage.


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