New Jersey’s Minimum Wage Increases, as Governor Pushes for Increase to $15

The New Jersey minimum wage was increased on January 1, 2019 from $8.60 to $8.85 per hour. This is more than a dollar above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, but it is lower than numerous other states. Massachusetts, California, and Washington, for example, currently set their minimum at $12.00 per hour. New York’s state-level minimum wage is around $11.00 per hour. New Jersey’s governor has stated that he would like to see a $15 minimum wage statewide. A recent deal with state legislators has increased the likelihood of that happening, although the increase would be gradual. Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15 per hour several years ago, and some observers note that the dire predictions of critics have not materialized.

The U.S. Congress last raised the federal minimum wage in the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. Pub. L. 110-28 § 8102. That bill raised the federal rate to $5.85 after sixty days, with two additional increases. It has remained at $7.25 per hour since July 2010. 29 U.S.C. § 206(a)(1). New Jersey voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in 2013, which set the statewide minimum wage at $8.25 per hour starting on January 1, 2014. N.J. Const. Art. I, ¶ 23. It further directed the state to increase the minimum wage every year based on the increase in “the consumer price index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) as calculated by the federal government.” Id. This process resulted in the $8.85 per hour rate that took effect at the beginning of January 2019. N.J.A.C. § 12:56-3.1(a).

A bill pending in the New Jersey Legislature, A15/S15, was reported out of both the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees in late January 2019. The the bill includes the CPI-W provisions of the 2013 constitutional amendment, but also sets increases in the minimum wage beginning in mid-2019. The minimum wage would increase by the greater of the amounts set by the bill or the increase in the CPI-W. The current rate of $8.85 per hour would increase to $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019, and to $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020. Each January 1 afterwards, the state minimum wage would increase by $1.00 until 2024, when it would be $15.00. If the U.S. Congress increases the federal minimum wage at any time to an amount greater than the state minimum wage rate, the federal rate would apply.

Critics of a $15 minimum wage argue that the increase would harm small businesses, and therefore harm workers by making it harder for employers to hire and retain employees. Proponents of the notion that the minimum wage is supposed to be “entry-level” argue that $15 per hour is too high for someone just starting out in the workforce. Minimum wage jobs are not limited to young people entering the workforce, but this argument still persists. A column published in Bloomberg in October 2018 examines the dire predictions about Seattle’s $15 minimum wage, describing them as “immediate, strident — and deeply wrong.”

If you need assistance in a dispute with an employer in New Jersey or New York, the employment attorneys at the Resnick Law Group are available to help you. Please contact us today at 973-781-1204, at 646-867-7997, or through our website to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team.

More Blog Posts:

New York and New Jersey Airport Workers Gain Minimum Wage Increase, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, November 19, 2018

New Jersey Governor Vetoes Minimum Wage Bill, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, September 22, 2016

New Employment-Related Bills Pending in the New Jersey Legislature, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, August 5, 2016

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