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Murphy talks minimum wage, paid sick leave at roundtable

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Governor Phil Murphy sits at a roundtable to discuss a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave with residents in Passaic City Hall on Monday, February 12th, 2018.
Governor Phil Murphy sits at a roundtable to discuss a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave with residents in Passaic City Hall on Monday, February 12th, 2018. - ()

Gov. Phil Murphy reaffirmed his commitment to raising New Jersey's minimum wage to $15 an hour and implementing a statewide paid sick leave program at a roundtable discussion Monday at Passaic City Hall.

Murphy said he considered minimum wage and paid sick leave “twinned realities,” and dedicated his comments to addressing criticisms of the policies.

“Contrary to some myths that are repeated often, [minimum wage] isn’t just a teenager phenomenon,” Murphy said, adding that 80 to 90 percent of citizens affected by a minimum wage increase are over the age of 20 and disproportionately women.

“We could really use $15 an hour. I came back [to] New Jersey from elsewhere and I was unemployed or underemployed for seven years,” said Natalie Hoffman, a library assistant at Rutherford Public Library who attended the roundtable. “If I didn’t have family I would be on the street.”

Business leaders recently voiced concern over Murphy’s progressive economic agenda. The New Jersey Business & Industry Association recently polled its members about the potential hike and reported a majority of employers said they would cut hours or benefits to compensate.

“My fear is that we’re going to just look at annual rate of pay per hour without a discussion on total compensation,” NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka told NJBIZ earlier this month.

Siekerka said her organization had “room to have a discussion” on minimum wage and recently outlined ways to make a minimum wage raise possible as long as there were “economic off-ramps” in the event the economy does not get better.

Murphy comments today addressed some of these concerns.

“The notion of a sticker shocker — going from $8.60 on Monday to $15 on Tuesday, we accept that is not realistic,” Murphy said.

If successful, New Jersey would join California, New York City (for employers of 11 or more) and the District of Columbia to commit to a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

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Arthur Augustyn

Arthur Augustyn


Arthur Augustyn grew up in Massachusetts and previously covered the video game industry in Los Angeles, city politics in Malibu, California, and local news in Bergen County before working at NJBIZ. He currently covers cannabis, government and tech.

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Dimitri February 12, 2018 3:26 pm

The New Murphy's Law = $15 per hour is going to kill small business. Then it's going to kill employment. Murphy is not going to guarantee that small business will make payroll, but guarantee what must be paid. You know, sign the front of the check, so employees can sign the back of the check. The money has to come from somewhere to pay the $15 per hour. So, it's automation for the bigger companies and closing down for the smaller ones. Less jobs all around. No matter what your ideology is, math is math.

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