Workers in New Jersey will see their minimum wage increase in 2019, just not to the $15 that Gov. Phil Murphy has been seeking.
On Jan. 1, the state will increase the wage by 25 cents, up from the current $8.60 hourly rate to $8.85 an hour, according to a statement from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
New Jersey’s minimum wage increased from $8.38 to $8.44 on Jan. 1, 2017, and then to its current rate on Jan. 1 this year.
Murphy is seeking a statewide minimum wage increase to $15 an hour that would be phased in over a period of years.
Advocates for a minimum wage increase argue that the hourly rate is too low to address the high costs of living and housing in New Jersey.
“While a growing number of cities, states and companies across the country adopt a $15 minimum wage, New Jersey’s working families are falling behind,” Analilia Mejia, director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, said in a written statement. “The longer we delay raising the wage, the purchasing power of $15 decreases and becomes insufficient to address poverty.”
Mejia was among labor activists and area mayors who on Oct. 11 rallied on the front steps of the New Brunswick City Hall.
A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University released Friday said that even though 74 percent of New Jersey adults support a wage increase, they were not on board with an increase to $15. Instead, respondents on average suggested an increase to $12.47 an hour.
“Policymakers will need to do a better job explaining why $15 is the magic number when it exceeds what many across the state believe is a more reasonable wage for those making the least allowed by law,” Krista Jenkins, professor of politics and director of the poll, said in a statement.