New Jersey Minimum Wage Set to Increase in 2019

Dec 03, 2018
| David Pearson
New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase

Employment law changes have been widespread in the tri-state area over the last several years.

New Jersey alone has seen several major legislative updates take effect: a new paid sick leave law, combating worker misclassification, and pay equity just to name a few.

Another prominent New Jersey employment-related issue that will be seeing an update at the start of 2019 (and potentially a significant revision in the future) is the state’s minimum wage.

With other states making major changes to their minimum wage, is New Jersey next?
 

Minimum Wage in New Jersey to Increase in 2019

On Friday, October 12th, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s administration announced that the state’s minimum wage will increase in 2019. Starting January 1st, 2019, minimum wage will rise from $8.60 to $8.85 per hour. The new minimum wage will apply to most employers in New Jersey, although certain exclusions do apply.

This $.25 increase is greater than $.16 boost that occurred at the beginning of 2018.

Currently, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development decides whether the minimum wage needs to be adjusted by reviewing consumer price index data each fall.

While the updated New Jersey minimum wage of $8.85 is greater than the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour), Governor Murphy still wants to further improve wages in the state.
 

A $15 New Jersey Minimum Wage?

One issue Governor Murphy campaigned on in the months leading up to last year’s election was to implement a minimum wage hike that would eventually reach $15, similar to the legislation that New York implemented a few years ago.

Under the law that was passed in 2016, New York’s minimum wage would increase each year until it hit $15.

A similar law was vetoed by former Governor Chris Christie, which would have seen the minimum wage reach $15 after five years.

But will Governor Murphy succeed in significantly increasing the minimum wage?

In September, Governor Murphy said he hopes to have the state Legislature pass a bill that he could sign within the next couple of months.

However, he ruled out an immediate wage increase to $15, saying that it would impact businesses too much. Instead, he would like the hike to be phased in over a few years.
 

Will New Jersey See a $15 Minimum Wage?

While the Murphy administration is adamant that a $15 minimum wage is necessary to help workers and boost the state’s economy, not everyone shares this opinion.

Opponents of the wage hike are concerned that a higher minimum wage will hurt smaller businesses and could lead to layoffs.

Despite the opposition, Governor Murphy and his administration are pushing for a $15 minimum wage and are currently working on a bill that they could pass.

New Jersey employers should continue to monitor news on the state's minimum wage over the next several months, and be ready for the 25 cent minimum wage increase that will go into effect on January 1, 2019.

Small business owners shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to HR and compliance experts if they need help planning for the minimum wage increase or other employment law changes.

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