What Happened to Raising the NJ Minimum Wage to $15/hour?
The New Jersey Legislature is on its summer break but Gov. Phil Murphy wants to make sure lawmakers don’t forget about raising the minimum wage as quickly as possible.
On Wednesday he tweeted out a minimum wage reminder. It stated a full-time minimum wage worker in Jersey earns $8.60 an hour, which amounts to $344 a week and less than $18,000 a year.
Murphy stressed in the tweet that “it’s unacceptable that someone working 40 hours/wk can live in poverty. It’s time to protect and uplift our workers and raise our minimum wage to $15 an hour.”
During an appearance in Princeton on Wednesday, Murphy told the crowd, “You’ve heard me say a lot about a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for everybody. On the unfinished business list, high on that list, if not No. 1 on that list, is minimum wage.”
“The more confidant a worker he or she is in their wages and benefits, the more they’re going to contribute to a stronger economy.”
When asked when he expects a minimum age bill to be introduced, Murphy said he wasn’t sure.
“I think we share, the legislative leadership and our administration, an intent to get this done," he said. "I can’t give you a specific date but I would say we want it, we’re in discussions.”
Business groups in New Jersey have opposed raising the minimum wage to $15, arguing it would endanger many smaller firms where profit margins are slim and force some companies to close. But state Treasurer Liz Muoio doesn’t believe that’s going to happen.
“We haven’t seen that in states where they have raised the minimum wage," she said. "There is not been an indication that companies are struggling to that extent.”
State Senate President Steve Sweeney supports a $15 minimum wage but has indicated there will have to be exemptions.
A few months ago he told a Meet the Decision Makers forum hosted by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the state Chamber of Commerce: “It has to be done with a lot of thought. You don’t want to create a situation where there’s a large reduction in employment.”