New Jersey Lawmakers Agree on a Deal to Hike Minimum Wage

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The Democratic members of the New Jersey legislature led by their governor Phil Murphy, have struck a deal to raise the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour by 2024. The proposal was announced on Thursday, January 17, 2019, in a statement to the press.

The bill that seeks to implement this gradual increase was introduced into the legislature earlier in January by the Assembly Speaker Hon. Craig Coughlin. It is one of the key promises the Democrats made during the campaigns. The raise covers workers in almost all categories including gamers and their reviewers such as in firms that have a workforce of more than 10 individuals.

If enacted, the bill will see the minimum wage climb from the current $8.85 to  $10 by July 2019 and then go up by $1 every year to $15 in 2024. This agreement is a fulfillment of Gov. Murphy’s campaign promise. Even though he was not able to implement it during his first year in office despite party backing, it is likely to come to pass.

Terming the deal as historical, Gov. Murphy said the raise will positively affect about 1 million New Jersey residents. With its implementation, the state joins only a handful others such as New York, California, and Massachusetts in actualizing the $15 hourly wage.

The bill, however, does not entirely favor seasonal workers, teenagers, and farmworkers as well as employees working in businesses that have a workforce of 10 or fewer employees. The pay for such workers will improve albeit at a slower rate only peeking at US$ 15 per hour in 2029.

Despite what is overtly good news, legislators from South Jersey and some business executives expressed mixed feelings about the details agreed on in the proposal.Greater Atlantic City Chamber president Mr. Joe Kelly said:“workers deserve better pay.” However, he says that such increases should not come at the cost of staff reduction, lesser man-hours, and inferior workers’ benefits.

His sentiments are echoed by business owners in Atlantic City who hope that legislators will consider discussing the details of the proposal with businesses before defining the more delicateelements. Mr. Kelly said, “I am sure the New Jersey leadership is genuine in its struggle to help its residents.” He added, “we appreciate that the legislature is looking at a graduated approach but the devil is in the details, and it would be unfortunate if the bill goes on to hurt the same people it is trying to help.”

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank, however, disagrees with the opinions businesses and the chamber of commerce. While referring to the proposal as “one of the most consequential deal” in the history of New Jersey, the think tank’s director Brandon McKoysaid that the positive impacts of the increase in salaries shall reflect in all segments of the New Jersey economy.

Despite the unanimous agreement, it remains unclear when the legislature will get to vote on the bill.