When does NJ's minimum wage go up? Key vote on $15 rate set for Thursday
New Jersey’s minimum wage could increase to $10 an hour on July 1, with exceptions for some workers, under a bill that is expected to be approved by the Legislature on Thursday and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy shortly thereafter.
That bump in pay would be just the first over the next few years for tens of thousands of workers who are earning the state minimum of $8.85 an hour or something close.
The bill, A-15/S-15, would ramp up the minimum wage to $15 by 2024, with seasonal workers, employees at small businesses and farm laborers on a slower schedule.
Here’s what to look for in the coming days:
Key votes on Thursday
The full Senate and Assembly are set to vote on the minimum wage bill Thursday, just two weeks after Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin — all Democrats — announced a deal to raise the wage in stages.
Democrats control both chambers and have the numbers to pass the measure even if it is opposed by all Republicans, who have warned that the bill would make it even costlier to conduct business in New Jersey and force some employers to lay off workers. They have also argued, to no avail, for a mechanism in the bill to freeze wage increases in the event of an economic downturn.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour was one of Murphy’s core campaign promises. He probably won’t want to wait long after Thursday's votes to sign the bill into law and make New Jersey the fourth state to commit to raising incomes to that level.
CHRISTIE TELL-ALL:Here's what Chris Christie leaves out of his book 'Let Me Finish'
When does the minimum wage go up?
Current law allows for the minimum wage to be adjusted each year based on economic benchmarks.
Now set at $8.85 an hour, the minimum wage under the bill would rise to $10 on July 1. It would then increase by $1 every Jan. 1 until reaching $15 in 2024.
Seasonal workers and employees at small businesses with five workers or fewer would not reach the $15 benchmark until Jan. 1, 2026.
Agricultural workers are not guaranteed to reach $15 an hour. Their wage would increase to $12.50 by 2024, short of that of other groups but still the highest wage for farm workers in the Northeast, according to lawmakers. The state labor commissioner and agriculture secretary must decide that year whether to recommend the wage increase to $15 an hour by 2027.