Governor Phil Murphy has signed a law increasing New Jersey's minimum wage. For most businesses, the first increase will be on July 1, 2019 (5 months from now) to $10.00 per hour, with another dollar an hour increase in January 2020 bringing the minimum wage $11.00 per hour. Increases of $1.00 per year will continue every January until January 2024 when the minimum wage will be $15.00 per hour.
Seasonal workers (those whose jobs are from May 1 to Sep. 30), and those who work for a business with less than 6 employees will also see an increase, but it will be more gradual. For seasonal businesses and those with less than 6 employees, the first increase for those businesses will be January 1, 2020 when the minimum wage will increase to $10.30. It will increase by eighty cents per hour every January and by 2025 will be $14.30 per hour. Another increase of seventy cents per hour will bring the minimum for these businesses to $15.00 by January 2026. Farm laborers also have a different increase schedule, hitting $12.50 per hour by 2024, with future increases for farm laborers to be determined by the Agricultural and Labor and Workforce Development Departments.
The law also creates a lower minimum wage for the first 120 hours employees involved in a "training program" work. Their minimum wage starting 2020 will be 90% of the regular minimum wage. Additionally, it allows up to $10 million in tax credits annually for businesses that hire workers with disabilities.
According to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, about 100,000 workers in New Jersey made the minimum wage in 2017. New Jersey has now joined California, New York and Massachusetts in passing legislation to raise incomes for minimum wage workers significantly.
Comment: This is a significant development for New Jersey employers. In less than twelve months, the minimum wage will increase from the current $8.85 per hour to $11.00 per hour, with the first increase just months away. Minimum wage increases also can have ripple effects for employees that are not paid minimum wage. Companies must act now to plan for the coming increases. Employers are also looking to neighboring states, like Pennsylvania, where Governor Wolf has proposed increases to the minimum wage to $15.00 by 2025-although with a legislature controlled by the GOP that have historically opposed hiking the minimum wage-that is far from a done deal.
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Jennifer R. Williams