‘Landmark legislation’ a new chapter for New Jersey employees and business owners
Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a bill raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. The new law ends a long-standing debate on whether low-income workers would be paid more and makes New Jersey one of several states that are working toward the $15 minimum wage (others include California, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C.). In New Jersey, the minimum wage will increase in increments beginning in July 2019, reaching $15 per hour by 2024.
The change is a victory for New Jersey unions and national groups like Fight for $15 that had been advocating for the rise since 2012, according to NPR, when they began “protesting for higher wages for fast food, child care, and airline workers, among other businesses” nationwide.
Announcing the signing, Governor Murphy tweeted, “For far too long, too many of our fellow New Jerseyans have struggled to survive on wages that have not kept up with the cost of living. Join me live in Newark as we sign landmark legislation raising the minimum wage to $15/hour.”
However, the new law includes a few notable exceptions, according to one source. Seasonal workers and workers at small businesses who have fewer than six employees won’t see $15 per hour until 2026. Farm workers won’t see $15 per hour until 2027 if they see it at all.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed previous bills intended to raise the minimum wage, on the basis that the increase would be bad for business. The current minimum wage in New Jersey is $8.85 per hour and $2.13 per hour for tipped workers.
Majority of New Jersey workers support the new minimum wage law
TSheets polled 600 New Jersey residents to find out how they feel about the new minimum wage and whether they think it will improve their quality of life and communities as a whole.*
Of the respondents, 78 percent said they support an increase, and 15 percent said they believe the minimum wage should either stay where it is or be lower.
Meanwhile, 75 percent of respondents who describe themselves as “business owners with employees” said they support an increase. And of those, 40 percent said they support it but think $15 is too high.
While it seems many people support the hike, when it comes to quality of life, only 47 percent believe the law will have a positive impact. Most people surveyed believe the rise will negatively impact company benefits. But business owners are split, with 36 percent saying the rise will negatively impact benefits and 36 percent saying they will not. The remaining 23 percent believe it will have no impact. Hiring is another story. When asked how they think hiring will change once the minimum wage reaches $15, 43 percent said hiring would stay the same, and 28 percent said it could decrease.
What about those currently working minimum wage jobs in New Jersey? Of residents surveyed, 62 percent said they are older than 24, 50 percent are college-educated, and 41 percent have at least one child. And the majority (74 percent) of those who currently make minimum wage say the increase will have a positive impact on their quality of life. However, 17 percent said they believe $15 is too high. This opinion could be based on a common concern that the cost of living will go up as a result of a higher minimum wage.
As a result of a higher minimum wage:
- 62 percent believe rents will increase.
- 60 percent believe the cost of child care will increase.
- 66 percent believe the cost of groceries will increase.
- 43 percent believe the unemployment rate will increase.
- 60 percent believe personal taxes will increase.
To ensure your business is compliant with new legislation in your state around minimum wage requirements, it’s always a good idea to check with your local Chamber of Commerce.
Additional Resources From TSheets: