Category Archives: Tips

>NJPP Monday Minute 12/27/10: To Insure Promptness: Tips for the Holiday Season


As the holiday season winds down, many have said thanks by tipping the people who take care of them during the year. These are the people who take care of their children, clean their houses and cut their hair. They are the people who walk their dogs, deliver their newspaper and prepare and serve their food. And, because many of these people are only guaranteed a fraction of the full minimum wage from their employer, they rely on these tips to help them make ends meet.

Tipped workers earn less than one-third the $7.25 an hour New Jersey state and federal law guarantees to minimum wage workers. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay workers who rely on tips as a major source of income as little as $2.13 an hour, as long as the worker earns at least the full minimum wage when his or her hourly wage and tips are averaged over a full work week. The definition of a tipped worker is one who earns at least $30 a week in tips. That includes waiters and waitresses, bartenders and parking lot attendants whose wages averaged about $11 an hour in 2009 when tips were included.

The problem with a job that relies on tips is that workers can see wide fluctuations in their income, which can make it difficult to pay their bills. All but two states, including New Jersey, have established a minimum wage for tipped workers to help alleviate the problems associated with these fluctuations. Because New Jersey has not established a minimum wage for tipped workers, the state’s rate defaults to the federal standard of $2.13 an hour, a wage that was last raised in 1991 and is the same in New Jersey as it is in Mississippi. Imagine living in New Jersey on a Mississippi wage that has not increased in 19 years.

The last time New Jersey addressed the issue of minimum wage workers was in 2005 when it raised the wage for most workers to $7.15. At the same time, it established the New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission to report on the adequacy of the wage and the condition of minimum wage workers. The commission issued two reports – the first in December 2007; the second a year later. Both reports recommended that New Jersey’s minimum wage be raised (first to $8.25 an hour, then to $8.50) and adjusted annually to reflect increases in the cost of living, as has been done in 10 other states.

But New Jersey lawmakers have failed to act. Only because the federal minimum wage increased in July 2009 did New Jersey’s minimum wage workers receive a 10-cent increase, which increased the hourly wage to $7.25. Perhaps frustrated by the state’s inaction, the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission has not met since 2008.

Today 14 states and the District of Columbia have higher minimum wages than New Jersey does. On January 1, three more states will provide a more generous wage than New Jersey currently does. A minimum wage worker in New Jersey who works full-time 52 weeks a year earns $15,080 annually, barely above the federal poverty level for a family of two ($14,570) and less than the federal poverty level for a family of three ($18,310) or four ($22,050). Supporting oneself or one’s family on salaries like that is especially difficult in New Jersey which now has the fifth highest cost of living in the country.

Raising wages for the lowest-paid workers helps sustain consumer spending and will boost the economic recovery. Minimum wage increases go directly to workers who spend the additional money immediately – on food, rent, gas and clothing. Without action by New Jersey lawmakers, the value of New Jersey’s minimum wage will continue to erode, making it even harder for minimum wage workers to make ends meet. And, without the establishment of a statewide minimum wage for tipped workers, the people who depend on tips to pay their bills will continue to fall into deeper and deeper poverty.

In this season of giving, New Jersey owes it to these workers to raise the minimum wage; to restore its value; and to establish a minimum wage for people who rely on tips to supplement their income. The minimum wage was set up to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable workers. It’s time for this to actually mean something.

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Filed under hourly wage, minimum wage, Monday Minute, New Jersey Policy Perspective, part-time work, Tips

12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression

A friend of mine sent me this piece of infomation a long while ago and I have been holding onto it since waiting for just the right moment to post about it.

Now, with the stock market down to it’s lowest point in a dozen years and the economy on the brink, seems to be about the right time to dicuss the “12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression” .
A few of the tips are a little out dated, but they still ring true:  
Our economic future could be even bleaker than you expect — and last year was the moment to unleash your inner survivalist. If the financial system suffers any more crises of confidence, credit gets even tighter, and the fed falls into a liquidity trap, we could be in for several hardscrabbling dystopian years. Forget maintaining your current shiny standard of living — how will you feed and clothe yourself, in the worst case scenario? We’ve compiled a few suggestions for things you can do now to brace yourself.

Avoid debt at all costs. If anything, you’ll want to save up as much money as you can, in case you have to live off your savings. Thanks to recent changes in bankruptcy law, it’s much harder than before for an individual to declare bankruptcy. So if you’re stuck in debt with little or no income, you’ll still be working for the banks. And as this guy points out, the banks will be hurting, so the moment you miss a payment, they’ll be quick to try and liquidate your collateral for whatever they can get.

Get out of your mortgage before the housing market collapses any further. As this site says, if you paid $300,000 for your house and it sells for $200,000, you could end up not owning your house and owing the bank $100,000.

Buy some cheap land in a rural area. Build a house, or just get a used RV. Either way, make sure you own your home free and clear, so you can live rent-free and mortgage-free for as long as you need to.

Go off the grid. Get your own power generator — or, better yet, some of those solar helium balloons. Or some wind turbines. Don’t be dependent on the power company to keep all your necessities running.

Cultivate some skills that will always be in demand. Become a decent electrician, handy-person, carpenter or cook. There may not be much need for someone who understands content management systems during a total economic shutdown, but someone who can build a house will always have a place to crash.

Offshore yourself. As the dollar gets weaker and weaker, U.S. white-collar service workers will be the cheap overseas employees for Europeans and Asians, predicts Robert Scoble in his roundup of how to recession-proof yourself. So as long as someone, somewhere, is still making use of those white-collar service skills (like programming, or customer support) you may be able to offer yourself to overseas companies as a cheaper alternative.

Invest in the ultimate counter-cyclicals. Some industries will always be in growth mode — like any business that caters to the rapidly growing senior population. Also, “sin and comfort” industries, like cigarettes, gambling and booze, do well during downturns and will probably make bank this time around as well. (Too bad booze and cigs are generally part of huge diversified conglomerates these days.) Also, movie companies are quietly bragging that the movie industry had one of its biggest growth spurts ever in the 1930s, as people craved escapism.

Invest in some Euros, or some other currency that’s not the dollar. Chances are the U.S. dollar will keep getting weaker, so you’ll be better off holding a more stable currency. You could also try investing in gold or silver, but those commodities are already skyrocketing in value.

Have some liquid funds on hand. MSN Money suggests reducing your contributions to your retirement plan or 401(k) (if you have one) so you can put more money into your savings instead. And remember, the banks are still FDIC insured, so your savings are probably safe — but other investments have no such guarantee. or take part in a community garden in your neighborhood. Try to position yourself so you can get as much of your diet as possible from food you’ve grown yourself, instead of being hooked on sushi.

Learn to hunt. These fine people claim that hungry people are already hunting small animals in the parks of San Francisco, and during the 1930s deer and squirrels were hunted almost to extinction. Learn how to trap, kill, prepare and eat a squirrel now, so you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Stockpile medications. Your biggest problem, in an economic meltdown, could be getting health care. If you’re dependent on prescription meds, try to get some extra pills now so you’ll have some on hand later. Just make sure you’re always taking the oldest meds you have, to minimize the risk of taking expired pills, these folks advise.

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Filed under cheap land, debt burdened, ecomonic outlook, Great Depression, medications, mortgage crisis, prepare for the next great depression, Tips