(Adds New York’s unemployment rate in last paragraph.)
Jan. 19 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he will consider increasing the minimum wage, though he wants to be sure the state is adding jobs before doing anything that might stifle employment growth.
Democratic lawmakers have proposed raising the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour from $7.25. A $7.25-an-hour job is better than no job, Christie, a first-term Republican, said at a town-hall meeting in an Irvington church today.
“What we need to do in this state is get more people working first,” Christie said. “We’ve got to make sure we get more people employed, not just more money for people who are already working.”
New Jersey’s unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point to 9 percent last month, the lowest since May 2009, the state’s Labor Department said in a statement today. It remains above the national level of 8.5 percent.
Christie’s town-hall meeting was his second since he proposed cutting income taxes by 10 percent across all brackets during his State of the State speech this week.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat from East Orange who has pushed for the minimum-wage increase, sat in a front-row pew for Christie’s gathering. She said she was glad to see the governor head into an urban community where just 4.7 percent of the residents voted for him in 2009. Irvington is in Essex County, where rents average $1,200 for an apartment, she said.
“I know any job is better than no job, our grandparents taught us that,” she said in an interview. “But $7.25 is not going to get you that apartment.”
Democratic lawmakers in New York also have proposed raising the minimum wage. New York’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 8 percent in December, the state Labor Department said in a statement today.
--Editors: Stacie Servetah, Mark Tannenbaum
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