‘Don’t Raise Our Costs. Please’ — NJ Manufacturers Make Case to Lawmakers

The New Jersey manufacturing industry cannot find enough skilled labor to fill jobs — which is ironic since the state’s unemployment rate continues to lag the national jobless average. That problem has drawn the attention of state lawmakers, and they’ve formed a bipartisan working group to come up with policies that could help bridge the gap.

The leaders of the New Jersey manufacturing companies testified to the group yesterday; their companies make everything from basic nuts and bolts to more sophisticated metal components used by medical and aerospace industries. The lawmakers heard concerns ranging from gaps in current workforce-development programs to insufficient marketing of the state’s manufacturing industry as a good career opportunity for high-school graduates.

Some of the executives also cautioned lawmakers about Gov. Phil Murphy’s plan to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15, warning it could lead them to adopt automation that in turn would reduce the industry’s current demand for labor. And they said taxes and the general cost of doing business in New Jersey remains a top issue as they try to compete against manufacturing companies in other states where taxes are lower and regulations are not as strict.

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