New Jersey raises minimum wage to $15 an hour

It was a great day for the workforce in New Jersey on Monday when Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill alongside Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver and Democratic legislative leaders to boost hourly minimum wage to $15.

The $15 hourly wage rate is a policy goal of left-leaning groups and New Jersey becomes the fourth country to phase in higher rate after California, Massachusetts, New York and District of Columbia.

Republican senators raised concerns over the increase wage rate saying it will pave path for business houses to lay off workers and move to automation.

It is also worried the increased rate could become untenable for business houses if a recession hits the country.

A statement released by Senator Declan O’Scanlon read, “The amount of job loss that we are going to see among small businesses will be tragic.”

However, Murphy dismissed such concerns saying the rise will be in phases. Currently the minimum rate is $8.85 and in July it will be raised to $10. In 2020 it will become $11 and similarly $1 an hour will be increased in subsequent years. By 2014 the wage will reach $15 an hour.

The model is different in some sectors like farm workers will see $12.50 rise over a period of five years while workers for small businesses and seasonal employees the wage will reach $15 by 2026. Tipped workers will find their wage reaching $5.13 an hour in 2024. Their current rate is $2.13 as hour.

A similar bill was vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2016 arguing higher wage will increase costs and hurt commerce.

Paul Linus