New Jersey Becomes Latest State to Enact a $15 Minimum Wage Law
With the signature of its governor on February 4, 2019, New Jersey became the latest state and the third largest to pass a minimum wage bill of $15.00 per hour. California and New York, which enacted similar laws in 2016 and 2017, are the only states with larger populations than New Jersey which passed such $15 minimum wage bills. Under the Law, the state’s current minimum wage of $8.85 per hour will increase to:
- $10.00 per hour on July 1, 2019;
- $11.00 per hour on January 1, 2020;
- An additional $1.00 per hour on January 1 of each consecutive year until $15.00 per hour in 2024.
Each year thereafter, the minimum wage may increase further depending on the national consumer price index based on state constitutional provisions. The New Jersey law does provide a handful of exceptions, such as seasonal employers and small employers (those with 5 or fewer employees), but most of those exceptions merely extend the schedule for implementing the $15 per hour minimum by a few years.
Federal / State Update on Minimum Wage
At the federal level, the minimum wage has been $7.25 for nearly a decade. Meanwhile, in January a bill to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00 per hour was introduced by the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives. The bill has 181 co-sponsors in the House and 31 co-sponsors in the Senate.
In addition to the federal, various states such as Virginia, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Maryland introduced bills to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour in January 2019. However, the Virginia bill was defeated by a narrow, two-vote margin in the state senate.