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New Jersey Lawmakers Eye A $15 Minimum Wage

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New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy and leaders in the state legislature have agreed on a compromise bill that will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024, NJ Advanced Media reports.

The bill, if passed, accomplishes one of Murphy’s policy goals while satisfying state legislators that the change, from a current minimum wage of $8.85, will not be too radical. Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, both Democrats, scored exemptions on some kinds of employers that the lawmakers believed would be unduly harmed by the wage hike.

The law raises the state minimum wage to $10 an hour for most workers on July 1, $11 in 2020, $12 in 2021, $13 in 2022, $14 in 2023 and $15 in 2024. Seasonal and small business employers will not have to pay a $15 minimum wage until 2026.

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The minimum wage for farm workers will hit $12.50 in 2024. The state legislature will then decide if the minimum wage for farms should rise to $15 an hour by 2027, according to NJ Advanced Media.

“I’m sorry it took as long as it did, but I think we came up with a really good compromise,” Sweeney told NJ Advance Media. “It took forever, but we got it done.”

Lawmakers plan to vote on the bill by the end of January and send it to the governor’s desk for final approval before it becomes law.

The move comes as businesses in nearby New York City struggle to stay open and profitable under a $15 minimum wage. New York City hiked its minimum wage for the third time in three years on Jan. 1.

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“It is a very tricky and delicate situation,” Amy Scherber, who employs 210 people across seven bakeries in the city, told The Wall Street Journal. “We’d love to give a good raise to every person, but the reality is there’s just not that much extra money around.”

Democrats in the U.S. House recently introduced a bill to more than double the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2024. The bill is unlikely to pass a GOP-controlled Senate or be approved by President Donald Trump.

The hike could cost the U.S. around 750,000 jobs, according to Job Creators Network President and CEO Alfredo Ortiz.

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