On Thursday, Jan. 17, NJ legislators and Governor Phil Murphy announced a potential deal that would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for a majority of workers in NJ. Upping the state’s minimum wage [from $8.85 an hour] was one of Murphy’s campaign promises, as well as a long-standing Democratic goal. According to the Economic Policy Institute, California, Massachusetts, New York, Washington, D.C. and now New Jersey are all taking steps to raise wages across the country.
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“No one working a full-time job 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. A higher minimum wage strengthens all of New Jersey," said Murphy, in a joint statement with other Democrats in charge of the Legislature.
Under the proposed bill, NJ’s minimum wage would rise to $10/hour on July 1 and then increase by $1 every Jan. 1 thereafter until it reaches $15. This would effectively come about in 2024 for over 1 million workers. Aiming to add more people with disabilities to the workforce, the deal also entails tax credits for their employers.
However, the wage increase is expected to be expedited for certain workers over others depending on their industry. Seasonal workers and those at small businesses that have five or fewer employees would reach the $15 benchmark in 2026, while agricultural workers are not guaranteed to reach it at all. The latter would make $12.50 an hour (still the highest wage for farmworkers in the Northeast) by 2024, at which point lawmakers would have to decide whether to prolong their exponential wage increase to 2027 so they could reach $15 as well.