Supporters of the constitutional amendment to raise New Jersey's minimum wage are celebrating its approval by voters Tuesday.

 

The current $7.25 an hour base pay will rise to $8.25 in January. And every September, it will grow to keep pace with the cost of living.

The raise will go a long way to help working parents support their families, said Tayzia Treadwell, a 20-year old single mother from Newark who earns the minimum wage.

"Believe it or not, this extra dollar will help," Treadwell said. "It will mean so much of a difference because of that cry that you cried because you didn't have money or even an extra 50 cents to get the baby a snack while picking him up for day care. You have it now."

The higher pay will help low-wage earners to support themselves and their families, agreed the pastor of Trenton Deliverance Church.

"Many if the people that are struggling just to put a meal on their table, they come to us to our food pantry, and we try to assist them," said the Rev. Mark Broach. "No one wants to come to the pantry -- they have to come, and we're glad to serve them. But this will make a difference."

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a primary sponsor of the measure, called it one of his greatest victories as a legislator. Low-income workers spend all the pay they get, and that helps boost the overall economy, he said.

Business leaders unsuccessfully lobbied against the change, saying it would lead to job cuts.