Minimum Wage Increase Set for Assembly Committee Action Monday

Legislation (A-15) to increase the state’s minimum wage will be considered by Assembly Labor Committee on Monday. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19).

Gov. Phil Murphy has been pressing legislative leaders to get a bill on his desk before Christmas. Murphy campaigned on increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.

While Speaker Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) agree that the state’s minimum wage should be increased to $15 per hour, there has been no agreement between them or with the administration as to details such as a phase-in schedule or potential exemptions. Sweeney has also expressed concerns on how the increase will impact the state budget and taxes.   

Sweeney issued the following statement Thursday morning: “Speaker Coughlin is offering a smart and progressive plan to increase New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Speaker’s legislation gives us a working document that will move our efforts to enact a needed wage increase forward. We will work with legislators, advocates and others to finalize a plan that will be approved by both houses of the Legislature and signed into law. We want to get input from others, but we can now do that with a good proposal that achieves our shared goal of getting to $15 in a responsible way.”

The bill provides that the state’s minimum wage rate will be increased to $9.50 per hour on July 1, 2019, to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, and then increased by $1.15 per hour on January 1 of each year from 2021 to 2024, reaching a level of $15.00 per hour in 2024.

The bill also provides for certain exemptions and phase-in adjustments for small employers (less than 10 employees), certain industries, seasonal workers, and workers that traditionally receive gratuities, as well as a “training wage” of 90 percent of the minimum for up to the first eighty hours worked in a new position. 

Minimum wage increases provided by the state Constitution based on CPI-W increases will continue to be applied in any year in which the increase set by the bill is less than the required constitutional increase, and in any year after 2024.

Any increase in the federal minimum wage that exceeds the state’s minimum will trigger an automatic increase to equal the federal minimum.