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All student employees receive 50 cent wage increase per NJ bill

<h5>The menu at Coffee Club located in Campus Club.</h5>
<h6>Julian Gottfried / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The menu at Coffee Club located in Campus Club.
Julian Gottfried / The Daily Princetonian

In response to recent legislation dictating an increase in New Jersey minimum wage, bumping the floor for salaries statewide from $12 to $13, University student employees will receive a 50 cent hourly raise this semester. Popular campus positions including Orange Key tour guides, book page library assistants, Reunions ushers, and campus recreation jobs, which were all previously paid $12.50 an hour, will now receive $13 an hour. 

Campus jobs are divided into three primary pay-brackets: “worker 1,” “worker 2,” and “manager/tutor” positions. A particular job’s classification is determined by level of supervision, requisite technical knowledge or previous experience, and difficulty of work. 

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“Worker 1” positions (qualified as roles that are “structured,” requiring “little to no prior experience,” and having a “high level of supervision” by the Undergraduate Financial Aid Office website) are the only salary bracket directly affected by the statewide increase in minimum wage. 

The “worker 1” bracket, which includes popular campus positions such as Orange Key tour guides, book page library assistants, reunions ushers, and  jobs in campus recreation, is the only employee group directly affected by the increased minimum wage. Such positions were previously paid $12.50 an hour, which falls below the newly mandated $13 minimum.

However, with the new semester, the University adjusted the hourly rate for all salary-brackets by 50 cents: “worker 1” jobs from $12.50 to $13, “worker 2” jobs from $13.50 to $14, and “manager/tutor” positions from $15.50 to $16.

In an email to The Daily Princetonian, University spokesperson Ayana Okoya said, “We do not anticipate that the increase in student wages will decrease the number of available positions.” 

Okoya specified, however, that wages are typically funded by individual hiring departments. 

Covering the cost of increased wages have already necessitated adjustment for some student employers such as Coffee Club, which recently had to increase the price of certain menu items. According to the Club’s marketing director Ava Vilensky ’23, the student-run coffee shop currently employs 36 undergraduates.

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“Our decision to increase prices is partially in response to the NJ minimum wage increase, as well as an increase in the price of our supplies due to supply chain issues,” she wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Our hope is that student employees will benefit from a slight increase in their wages.”

For Amalia Haile-Manas ’25 who has worked as a barista at Coffee Club since early November, the raise marks “a step in the right direction.”

“The pay shouldn’t be something that bars people from working here. Some people have to take jobs on campus that pay more because they need it to support themselves,” she said.“The 50 cent bump gets us a little closer, but I think we would want to see more of an increase to make sure that anyone can work here.”

This semester, only the salaries of student employees in the lowest pay-bracket are increased; however, student wages are expected to be on the rise in coming years. The Jan. 1 increase in New Jersey minimum wage is one part of a multi-phase plan to set statewide minimum wage at $15 per hour by 2024, outlined in a 2019 bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy. 

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Sarah Fry ‘23, a consultant at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning (a “manager/tutor” position in the highest pay bracket,) echoed support for the pay increase.

“Every extra bit of cash helps especially for students who need to work as a way to support themselves financially while they’re here,” she said. “It’s definitely a positive change.”

Tess Weinreich is a news staff writer and features contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at tw7353@princeton.edu. 

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly claimed that only student employees in the lowest pay bracket received wage increases. Students in all pay brackets will receive wage increases.

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