New Jersey Legislature Passes $15 Minimum Wage
Bill Now Heads to Gov. Chris Christie, Who Can Approve or Veto Raises for 1 in 4 Garden State Workers
The New Jersey legislature Thursday approved raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2021, a measure that would boost pay for 975,000 New Jerseyans – or one in four workers in the state.
If Gov. Chris Christie approves the bill, New Jersey would become the third state headed to $15, and it would bring to 21% the share of the U.S. workforce covered by a $15 minimum wage law.
If the governor blocks the measure, legislators are expected to place the $15 wage on the 2017 state ballot. In 2013, after Christie vetoed an $8.50 minimum wage increase, the legislature referred it to the state ballot, where voters approved it.
In response to the legislature’s move, Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, issued the following statement:
“The $15 minimum wage is roaring across the country and delivering the first big raises for workers at the bottom in decades. “Governor Christie now gets to show where he stands – with this nation’s struggling middle class or with low-paying corporations like McDonalds and Walmart that are making billions in profit while their workers suffer.
“If Governor Christie doesn’t block it, the $15 minimum wage will mean several thousand dollars more each year in the pockets of nearly 1 million workers in the state. “That’s a big deal for a home health aide or fast food worker who struggles on $15,000 a year. And it’s a big deal for taxpayers, who pick up the public assistance tab when wealthy corporations don’t pay their workers enough to survive.”
The move towards $15 in New Jersey follows passage of $15 minimum wages in California and New York in April and in the District of Columbia on Tuesday. Eighteen percent of the U.S. workforce is now covered by a $15 minimum wage law.
Campaigns for $15 minimum wage laws are active in other states and cities across the country, including Baltimore, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.
State-of-the-art economic analysis of the $15 minimum wage by University of California-Berkeley researchers shows that minimum wage increases bring broad benefits for workers with little adverse impact on jobs. One of the key dynamics documented by the new research is that, unlike small wage increases, a $15 minimum wage generates billions of dollars in new consumer spending, which boosts sales and offsets much of the higher cost to businesses.
More than 75 economists have endorsed the findings of the University of California study, and another 200 economists have endorsed a $15 federal minimum wage by 2020, finding that raising the minimum to $15 an hour “will be an effective means of improving living standards for low-wage workers and their families and will help stabilize the economy. The costs to other groups in society will be modest and readily absorbed.”
Portion of U.S. Workforce Covered by $15 Minimum Wage