Minimum Wage-related Bills Slated for Senate Committee Consideration

Two minimum wage-related bills are scheduled for Senate Labor Committee consideration on Thursday. One would suspend or delay the minimum wage increase enacted last Spring in the event of an economic downturn. The other would create a task force to study the effect the minimum wage increase has on businesses, including their ability to hire new workers, whether they needed to cut hours or lay off workers to make ends meet, and whether they have switched to automation.

Under the first measure (S3607) the state-mandated incremental increase from the current $10 to $15 per hour by 2024 would be suspended or delayed in the event of a decline in employment and sales tax, at which point the suspension would be instituted on a year-by-year basis. The second scenario laid out in the bill would suspend the wage increase until the state regains revenue past 2 percent.

Under the second measure (S3608), an 11-member minimum wage study task force would have until December 31, 2019, to submit its first report, followed by a new one at the end of each year.

Both measures, and their Assembly companions (A5226; A5228), were introduced in March a month after Gov. Murphy signed the measure setting the state’s minimum wage on a path to $15 per hour. The rate will increase to $11 per hour January 1, 2019.

A constitutional amendment passed in 2013 already provides for automatic inflation adjustments to the state’s minimum wage.