Lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy have reached a deal to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024, the governor’s office announced Thursday afternoon.
Seasonal workers and employees of businesses with less than five workers will see their wage raise to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2026. Farm workers’ wages will increase to $12.50 an hour no later than 2024.
For the majority of employees in the state, the current base rate of $8.85 would increase to $10 an hour by July 1 and then $11 an hour by Jan. 1, 2020. It would increase $1 an hour every Jan. 1 until it reaches $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2024.
By 2028, seasonal workers and small business employees would receive additional increases to adjust for inflation that took place since 2024.
The deal scores a major policy victory for Murphy, who days earlier at his first state of the state address called for a deal on increasing the wage to $15 an hour.
“Today, we are taking a historic step to provide more than one million New Jersey workers a stronger foothold in the middle class,” Murphy said in a prepared statement Thursday. “No one working a full-time join should ever live in poverty. Putting the minimum wage on a clear and responsible path to $15/hour is good for workers, good for our businesses, and good for our economy.
Lawmakers would have to move the bill through committees in the Assembly and Senate, followed by full floor votes in both chambers, followed by Murphy’s signature.
The only proposal with an official number is Assembly Bill 15, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, and referred to the Assembly Labor Committee on Dec. 6, 2018.
“By increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 for the majority of workers we are achieving the goal of lifting people up to improve their quality of life,” Coughlin said in a Thursday statement. “We also took into consideration the concerns of our state’s valued small business community.
In a Thursday statement, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association said that although the appreciated the gradual phase-in to grant “predictability” for businesses, they were nonetheless still wary of the increase.
“Today’s announcement is another hit to small businesses who are absorbing cumulative costs in the form of new mandates, more subsidies for energy delivery and increased taxes as a means to balance the state budget,” NJBIA President and Chief Executive Officer Michele Sierkerka said in the statement. “Most small business owners pay what they can afford for their workers. Now that it’s a mandate, it is inevitable that some of those with the smallest of profit margins will struggle, stagnate or simply fail.”