Much of the workforce of New Jersey is rejoicing Monday after a new bill that will significantly boost the statewide minimum wage per hour. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that will raise the minimum wage from $8.85 to $15.00 per hour. Excited employees gathered in the streets of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to celebrate the momentous event, holding signs and banners. New Jersey is now the fourth U.S. state to partake in the higher pay rate, according to CBS News.
California, Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia have already initiated this change, inspiring other states to consider the possibility of doing the same. Governor Murphy looked at accomplishing this as one of his primary campaign promises and he followed through.
Left-leaning groups and union organizations within the state have long pushed for the higher pay rate, while conservatives remain weary. Republican Governor Chris Christie already turned down a similar bill in 2016 out of concerns regarding the increased costs and possible damage to commerce. On Monday, many New Jersey Republicans spoke out in criticism of the bill, saying that it will cause many small businesses to begin laying off employees or face going out of business.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Monday that will gradually raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024 https://t.co/pjoDMX2ltP
— POLITICO (@politico) February 5, 2019
Senator Declan O’Scanlon spoke out in concern that if a recession hits, the state will be in massive economical danger. The state plans to slowly phase in the pay rate increase over a period of five years to cause less of a dramatic strain on businesses. Still, O’Scanlon expects coming years to show a spike in New Jersey job loss.
“The amount of job loss that we are going to see among small businesses will be tragic. I start from the basis that you’ve got full-time work earning poverty wages in 2019 in New Jersey. There’s no excuse that could justify this.”
The New Jersey workforce should not expect his change to happen overnight. The minimum wage will gradually reach $10 by July and increase by $1 each year through 2024. Nevertheless, Governor Murphy believes the bill is a positive start in the right direction. In a public statement he mentioned the many New Jersey families the bill will benefit.
“It is a great day to make some history for New Jersey’s working families. And that’s just what we’re going to do. We’ve talked long enough about putting New Jersey on a responsible path to $15 an hour minimum wage. Today we start our way on this path,” he said. The bill will indeed alleviate the financial burdens of thousands of citizens, making it easier to afford housing and medical care.