ALICE = Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed in Morris County

Minimum Wage in Morris County vs. Living Wage

Cost of Living Index Series

Gov. Phil Murphy signed new a bill that to gradually raise New Jersey’s minimum wage. The current $8.85 statewide minimum wage will increase to $10/hr on July 1, 2019; then to $11/hr six months later.  Then it will increase by $1 an hour every Jan. 1 until reaching $15 in 2024.

We know that where it is right now, ($8.85/hr) families and individuals have insufficient income to meet minimum standards given the cost of living in Morris County.  But will $15/hr be enough?

See the ALICE survey for Morris County. This United Way study provides a nuanced answer to that question. Basically though, the answer is “no.” $15/hr is better, but not enough.  One assumption in the United Way study is that most adults live in families.  The feature image shows a map of Morris County with the concentration of ALICE households by municipality.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a living wage calculator that parses requirements further. In their estimation, at $15/hr minimum wage, some families can manage.  Especially if one or more adults can clock-in more than 40 hrs/week.

Below is a comparison of the living wage for a single adult in counties in Northern NJ.  A single worker can scrape by on $13.60 in Morris, according to MIT.

It gets more complicated when you look at other family structures. The results for Morris County are below.  As you’ve guessed, the amount you need to make is tied to the size of your family.  When two adults are working, its assumed they bring in the same amount.  Shown as total household income needs:

Hourly living wage for a household with two working adults and multiple children has to be $15 x2 incomes = $30.  Up to $21 x 2 = $42.  A family with a parent at home needs to make $23 – $30/hr depending on the number of children.  A single parent needs to earn $27.50/hr for a steady 40 hrs/week.

Two Income Scenario and One Parent at Home with Children – Second Income is Shown in Yellow.

However, if one is a farm worker, you are excluded from the minimum wage hike.

Below is a comparison of minimum wage across the country.