From NJ Spotlight:
Today more than 200,000 New Jerseyans are getting a raise to $10 an hour, the first in the state’s multi-year move toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature passed and Gov. Phil Murphy signed the new wage into law five months ago as a way to provide all workers with a living wage in one of the highest-cost states in the nation. Last year’s ALICE report from the United Way of Northern New Jersey found that close to 40 percent of all households in the state, or 1.2 million, were either living in poverty or working poor and unable to afford such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter, with ALICE defined as Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
The minimum wage for most hourly employees will reach $15 by 2024, making New Jersey one of only five states plus the District of Columbia to have enacted a $15 minimum. DC will be the first to reach that mark, next July 1, followed by California in 2022.
Progressive groups fought hard for the higher wage and it was one of Murphy’s campaign promises. Business organizations opposed it. Neither side has changed its mind, with businesses saying it is going to lead to higher costs for consumers and could force some shops to close their doors, while supporters say it will both make it a little easier for workers to make ends meet and boost the economy as people have more money to spend.
“People have been pushed behind in this economy for far too long,” said Brandon McKoy, president of the progressive-leaning New Jersey Policy Perspective. “We are finally starting to get on the road to get to the true value of the work they are doing. It will help them better be able to take care of their families. And there will be gains in the local economies as they are able to afford to buy more things.”
“Generally and not surprisingly, we’re seeing many of the same concerns we had noted while advocating for a phased in and limited increase — that they’ll need to raise costs or cut expenses to accommodate the higher rate,” said Michele Siekerka, NJBIA’s president and CEO. “Obviously, smaller businesses will be more impacted by this increase to $10 an hour. Whether that includes a small increase for the cost of a burger, as an example, will probably depend on the business.”
Most workers can be paid no less than $10 per hour starting today, an increase of $1.15 over the current minimum. A second increase to $11 is scheduled for January 1, 2020.