June 17, 2019 | 70° F

NJ Assembly Labor Committee to hear $15 minimum wage bill

Photo by Garrett Steffe |

The New Jersey Business and Industry Association found that 66 percent of participants surveyed agreed that increasing the minimum wage would impact their business and 39 percent predict it will be a significant impact.

Effective Jan. 1, 2019, the New Jersey state minimum wage will increase to $8.85 an hour, up 25 cents from the current rate. 

During his campaign for office, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) promised to raise state wages to a $15 hourly minimum. On Monday, a bill taking a step toward meeting that promise will be voted on by the Assembly Labor Committee of the New Jersey State Legislature.

Assembly Bill 15, which is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19), would raise the minimum wage for most workers to $15 an hour by 2024, according to NJBIZ. Hourly wages would increase to $9.50 on July 1, 2019, and then would reach $11 an hour on Jan. 1, 2020. The rate would continue to increase $1 each year between 2021 and 2024 until it eventually reaches $15 an hour.

It would also enact slower increases to $15 an hour for farmers, teenage workers, seasonal workers and certain small businesses, which would reach the threshold by 2029, according to NJBIZ.

"This bill addresses the issue of helping New Jersey's working poor be better able to afford living in the state while taking into consideration the concerns of the state's valued small business community,” Coughlin said in a statement.

Wage hikes have been a topic of discussion at Rutgers, too.

All throughout the year leading into yesterday afternoon’s Rutgers Board of Governors meeting, members of the faculty union, Rutgers American Association of University Professors and American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), and student group, Rutgers United Students Against Sweatshops (RUSAS), have petitioned the University to raise worker minimum wages to $15 an hour, according to The Daily Targum.    

Current worker wages at Rutgers are $11 hourly and have remained steady since last December when University President Robert L. Barchi first announced the increase. 

In regard to future increases, University spokesperson Dory Devlin said in a statement to the Targum that Rutgers will follow legislative rulings made at the state level.

“Governor Murphy has committed to increasing the minimum wage in New Jersey to $15 per hour over the course of the next few years. The University will be following legislative action regarding this initiative and will abide by any changes made to state wage laws,” she said.

Critics of a higher minimum wage cited raised prices, reduced staff or hours and an increase in automation as strategies they would consider to counter the effects of a wage increase, according to a survey by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. Sixty-six percent of participants surveyed agreed that increasing the minimum wage would impact their business and 39 percent predicted it would be a significant impact. 

Coughlin said $15 an hour can help tackle inequality in New Jersey, too.

"Raising the minimum wage will not only lift up the current generation of low-wage workers but ensure fairness for future generations and tackle issues of hunger and inequality," he said. 

Christian Zapata

Ryan Stiesi

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