Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro
Nicholas Pugliese, Trenton Bureau

A bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy nearly two years ago made New Jersey part of a national movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

The law put the state on a timeline, beginning in July 2019, to incrementally increase the minimum wage, from $8.85 an hour, to $15 for most workers by 2024.

Here’s a look at how and when the bill, aptly numbered A-15, will implement a $15 minimum wage in New Jersey:

Schedule for increases

Hundreds of thousands of people would see their wages rise under the bill. The schedule for wage increases for most workers is as follows:

$10 on July 1, 2019
$11 on Jan. 1, 2020
$1 increase every subsequent Jan. 1 until reaching $15 in 2024 ($12 in 2021; $13 in 2022 and $14 in 2023)
Wage increases would then be tied to the consumer price index for all urban wage earners and clerical workers, or CPI-W, taking effect on the first of every year

Starting in 2020, employers would be able to pay “training wages,” equal to at least 90 percent of the minimum wage, for the first 120 hours of work by people enrolled in a training program.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said that the training wage is meant to “soften the impact of the new wage schedule on new employees who are not yet working at full capacity.”

Key exceptions

Under the bill, a seasonal worker is defined as someone whose job falls only in the window of May 1 to Sep. 30, while a small employer is any business with five workers or fewer. The wage schedule for these people is more drawn out:

$10.30 on Jan. 1, 2020
$0.80 increase every subsequent Jan. 1 until reaching $14.30 in 2025
$0.70 increase, to $15, on Jan. 1, 2026
Wage increases would then be tied to the CPI-W, plus a little extra so that the minimum wage for these workers is the same as the first group by 2028

Agricultural workers

Farm laborers will have to wait even longer to reach a $15 wage. Their schedule:

$10.30 on Jan. 1, 2020
$10.90 on Jan. 1, 2022
$0.80 increase every subsequent Jan. 1 until reaching $12.50 in 2024
Wage increases would then be tied to the CPI-W

In 2024, the heads of two state departments, Agriculture and Labor and Workforce Development, would have to study whether to raise wages further for agricultural workers. If they can’t agree, the governor would nominate a tie-breaking member subject to Senate confirmation.

Tipped workers

Tipped workers would see their take-home pay increase to $15 an hour by 2024 under the bill, although how that happens would be different from other groups.

Under current law, tipped workers must earn at least the minimum wage through a combination of tips and salary. That would continue under the bill, with the wages that employers are required to pay increasing from the current floor of $2.13 an hour to $5.13 an hour by 2024.

Business tax credits

The bill provides tax credits for businesses to retain employees “with an impairment” and add more such employees to the workforce.

Eligible workers are those “whose work capacity is significantly impaired by age or physical or mental deficiency or injury,” according to the bill, which caps total annual tax credits at $10 million.

New task force

The bill also creates a new Task Force on Wages and State Benefits to study how changes in the minimum wage could affect the eligibility of low-income residents for public services.

The panel is charged with producing an annual report with recommendations for adjustments in eligibility standards or changes in subsidy rates.

District Offices

Gloucester County

Kingsway Commons
935 Kings Highway, Suite 400
West Deptford, NJ 08086
Phone: (856) 251-9801
Fax: (856) 251-9752

Salem/Cumberland Counties

The Finlaw Building
199 East Broadway, Suite G
Salem, NJ 08079
Phone: (856) 339-0808 or
             (856) 455-1011
Fax: (856) 339-9626