State minimum wage increases to $11 per hour

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Photo by Dan Smedely on Unsplash

By Bradford Mason
Managing Editor

At the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2020, New Jersey’s second statewide minimum wage increase from $10 to $11 per hour. The increase is part of a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Currently, approximately 192,000 workers in New Jersey make between $10 and $10.99 per hour, according to U.S. Census Bureau Monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) data, and will therefore directly benefit from the increase.

Seasonal and small employers were given a longer timeline under the law to reach $15 per hour in order to lessen the impact on their businesses. Agricultural and tipped workers are guided by separate minimum wage timetables.

As of New Year's Day, seasonal employers and those with fewer than six workers must pay a minimum wage of $10.30 per hour.

“New Jerseyans working full-time deserve fair, livable wages,” said Gov, Phil Murphy, who signed the legislation in February 2019. “With our second statewide minimum wage increase, we are following through on our commitment to give more workers the opportunity to join the middle class, which will strengthen our economy over the long-term.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney, who authored the prior laws that increased the minimum wage as well as the constitutional amendment requiring cost-of-living increases, said the increase will impact the state's economy.

“Increasing the pay of minimum wage workers is not only the right thing to do, it is a smart way to fuel economic growth and productivity. Sweeney said. "Steady increases will provide greater economic fairness for minimum wage workers, helping to improve their standard of living and their quality of life so they can better support themselves and their families. This is also a step forward in bridging the wealth gap as we strive to build a high-wage economy that respects the dignity of each and every worker.”

While the minimum wage increase is good news for workers, some say it's not good news for many small businesses. New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) President & CEO Michele N. Siekerka, Esq. said in a statement that smaller businesses will have to pass the raise to customers.

“Across the country, we are beginning to see some of the unintended consequences of $15 minimum wage increases – whether it’s the stalling of entry-level job growth in Seattle or restaurants adding surcharges to food bills to offset labor ordinances in California," she said. "New Jersey has an opportunity to mitigate these and other impacts with corrective legislation."

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