By George E. Norcross III

Well being care is arguably probably the most very important sector of New Jersey’s economic system. In actual fact, practically, 500,000 persons are employed in New Jersey’s well being care trade, in line with Select New Jersey. That is out of a complete state labor pressure of 4.5 million. It is serving to to gasoline New Jersey’s economic system, particularly when you think about that employment on this sector has elevated yearly since 1990.

Nevertheless, regardless of the significance of this trade and its total progress, wages for too many employees at our state’s well being programs weren’t rising together with it.

That’s the reason Cooper College Well being Care is elevating the minimal wage to $15 an hour for all of our workers efficient Jan. 1, 2019. At a time when the state’s unemployment charge is approaching traditionally low ranges, it is solely proper to pay greater wage to those that play a significant position in preserving all of us wholesome.

The rise of the minimal wage will instantly profit about 10 % of Cooper’s 7,500 workers. As a result of as a lot as one-third of the folks receiving the elevate are Camden metropolis residents, the multiplying results on this funding in our employees can be felt all through town.

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However Cooper shouldn’t be alone in making this determination. Particularly in our cities, medical facilities are among the many largest employers, and a rise in wages may have a big impact on our personal communities. And there is definitely no purpose the state’s suburban and rural hospitals shouldn’t observe swimsuit as properly.

That is why final week I wrote to the chair and CEO of each well being system in New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania asking them to lift wages for his or her employees. I let my colleagues know that Cooper is elevating the minimal wage for our workers not solely as a result of it’s the proper factor to do, but additionally as a result of we imagine it’s a sound enterprise determination to assist appeal to and retain priceless workers.

Whereas there may be undoubtedly a value that comes with this determination, the profit it supplies to the individuals who make our organizations run and the sufferers they serve clearly outweighs the fee, particularly when you think about what the state unemployment charge is in the present day.

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As anybody who works in well being care is aware of, too usually it’s tough to draw and retain the folks we’d like on this subject due to the low wages which might be paid. We additionally know that on this tight labor market we’re going to have to lift wages some, so there may be frankly no excuse to not elevate well being care employees to a $15 minimal wage now to draw and retain the very best workforce.

I additional wrote that research point out low wages are immediately tied to the bodily well being of a person, with these incomes decrease incomes affected by extra long-term well being issues and acute medical wants. Our organizations are dedicated to bettering the well being of the communities we serve. It’s inconceivable to us that we’d proceed to advertise the well being of our sufferers, however neglect the well being of our personal employees.

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Final, when massive employers — equivalent to New Jersey’s well being programs — pay the next wage to our workers, we are going to assist the communities we serve. Many well being programs, together with Cooper, have deep roots within the native communities and plenty of workers, significantly lower-wage earners, stay in shut proximity to their hospitals and amenities.

By growing wages, we’re doing greater than serving to particular person employees; we’re strengthening their neighborhood — our neighborhood — as they earn and spend extra.

Cooper has led the best way and I can guarantee my colleagues it is the fitting factor to do. I urge them to have their organizations be a part of us to do proper by New Jersey residents.

George E. Norcross III is chairman of the Cooper College Well being Care Board of Trustees.

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