From the Star Ledger:
New Jersey’s Democratic governor and lawmakers have reached a highly anticipated agreement to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024.
Under the deal, many workers will see their wages rise gradually to a $15 an hour, though some, including those employed by small businesses with five or fewer employees, will have to wait longer.
The deal had been held up by a disagreement over which workers should receive $15 an hour and when. Gov. Phil Murphy called for $15 for all, while legislative leaders said there must be exceptions made for some employers, including small businesses and farmers. This tension had stalled progress on one of the Democrats’ top priorities.
The breakthrough announced Thursday is a plan to raise the standard minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1, $11 an hour in 2020, $12 an hour in 2021, $13 in 2022, $14 in 2023 and $15 in 2024.
“This is a big, big step forward for New Jersey. And particularly, it’s responsible,” Murphy said. “We are changing the lives of a million workers in this state. I can’t stress that enough.”
The impact of the deal is far reaching. New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal Trenton think tank, estimated more than 1 million workers will benefit from the wage hike. But about 10 percent of those employees will be put on a slower path.
Seasonal workers and small business employees won’t reach $15 an hour in 2026. Farm workers will hit $12.50 in 2024, after which it would be left up to state officials in the executive branch whether to keep going to $15 an hour by 2027.
A bill still must be passed by the state Senate and Assembly and signed into law by the governor. The Democratic-controlled Legislature hopes to vote on the bill by the end of the month, according to one legislative source.
The New Jersey Business and Industry Association, which represents 20,000 businesses, said he announcement is “another hit” to small businesses trying to absorb new rules, like paid sick leave, energy costs and higher personal and corporate state tax rates.
“Most small business owners pay what they can afford their workers. Now that it’s a mandate, it’s inevitable that some of those with the smallest profit margins will struggle, stagnate or simply fail,” NJBIA President Michele Siekerka said in a statement.