Minimum wage for many workers will top $15 an hour next year

The latest automatic increase of New Jersey’s minimum wage will hike the hourly rate to $15.13 next year for many but not all the state’s low-wage workers.  

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Tuesday that a $1 increase is set to go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2024. It comes as a result of state wage rules that have required the statewide minimum hourly rate for the last several years to be adjusted annually, by the rate of inflation, or $1, whichever is larger.  

Due to a high rate of inflation in 2022, the statewide minimum wage increased by $1.13, to $14.13, on Jan. 1, 2023. But inflation has cooled in more recent months, bringing on the $1, automatic increase mandated under a law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in 2019 that called for at least a $15 minimum wage by the start of 2024. 

“As we approach this long-awaited benchmark, I am hopeful that New Jersey workers will be able to improve their quality of life and secure a better future for their families in the middle class,” Murphy said in a statement Tuesday.   

“Our Administration will continue to prioritize our workers, who are the backbone of our economy,” he said.   

Wait will be longer for some 
Still, not every low-wage worker in New Jersey will see the $1 jump to $15.13 on Jan. 1.  

New Jersey’s wage law allows exceptions to the general minimum pay for several groups of workers. Among them are people employed by seasonal and small businesses, as well as farmworkers. A different set of rules is also in place for service workers who earn a “tipped” wage, such as bartenders and waitresses. 

Employers of seasonal workers and small-business owners, defined as having five or fewer workers, were given until 2026 to reach the $15 benchmark to lessen the impact on their businesses. As a result, their employees’ minimum hourly wage will increase to $13.73 on Jan. 1, up from $12.93, according to state officials.  

Agricultural workers who work on a farm for an hourly or “piece-rate” wage were given until 2027 to reach the $15 benchmark, so their minimum hourly wage will increase to $12.81 on Jan. 1, up from $12.01, state officials said.  

The hourly cash wage for tipped workers will remain at $5.26, with employers able to claim a $9.87 tip credit, an increase of $1. Under state law, if the minimum cash wage plus an employee’s tips do not equal at least the state minimum wage, then the employer must pay the employee the difference, the officials said. 

Meanwhile, direct-care staffers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities will see their minimum wage rise by $1, to $18.13, on Jan. 1, the officials said. 

Top priority 
For years, New Jersey’s minimum wage was reset every year under language that’s written into the state Constitution that requires annual adjustments based on changes in the rate of inflation. 

But Murphy, a second-term Democrat, made a $15 minimum hourly wage a top policy goal for his first term in office, when the minimum wage in New Jersey was much lower.

In 2019, Murphy and the state’s majority-Democratic Legislature passed a law upping the minimum wage and also requiring annual increases of at least $1 to occur automatically through 2024.   

As a result, New Jersey’s minimum hourly wage was increased from $8.85 to $10 on July 1, 2019, and to $11 on Jan. 1, 2020. Additional annual increases of $1 under the law increased the statewide minimum wage to $13 by 2022, before the high rate of annual inflation for 2022 triggered the $1.13 increase that went into effect earlier this year.  

After the final $1 annual increase required under current law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024 — pushing the rate for the first time above Murphy’s $15 goal — the constitutional language requiring annual adjustments based solely on inflation will remain in effect, according to state officials. 

“As we reach this significant milestone, my heartfelt appreciation goes to Governor Murphy and our Legislature for their dedication and commitment to supporting New Jersey workers and businesses,” said New Jersey labor commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. 

Source: NJ Spotlight News

 

 

 

 

 

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