Sen. Gopal to Introduce Compromise Minimum Wage Bill

In an effort to support both New Jersey’s deserving workers and mom and pop small-business owners, Senator Vin Gopal will introduce legislation to raise the minimum wage to $12 over three years followed by a state study to determine its impact on small business owners.

The bill would set an initial minimum wage increase to $10.10 as of 2019. The bill would then increase the minimum wage as much as $1.25 in both 2020 and 2021, culminating in a $12 minimum wage.

The bill also provides for a number of exemptions designed to support local and seasonal businesses and requires annual economic studies to be conducted to evaluate the impact of the minimum wage increase over a five year period.

“Nearly 10 percent of New Jersey residents live in poverty, and many New Jersey workers rely on one or more minimum wage jobs to support themselves and their families,” said Senator Vin Gopal.

“New Jersey’s workers deserve a reasonable wage. Transitioning to a $12 minimum wage is a strong start. Should we see the economy improving after reaching a $12 minimum wage, we will then have ample evidence to support increasing the minimum wage further. Gradual, measured steps are key to implementing this shift successfully.

“However, we must also consider the constraints on small and seasonal businesses who often rely on minimum wage workers. Our local mom and pop shops will not be able to afford the short-term $15 minimum wage that some of my colleagues are pushing for. While I certainly support New Jersey’s workers, as a small business owner myself I understand the demands and limitations of running a small business. That is why I have fought for exemptions that will allow workers to earn a better wage without putting small businesses out of business, which would ultimately provide a blow to our economy and contribute to the unemployment rate.”

In addition to incrementally raising the minimum wage to $12, Senator Gopal’s bill also provides exemptions for agricultural workers, seasonal workers, small businesses that have been in operation for less than three years, small businesses which provide healthcare, employees enrolled in on-the-job training programs, and employees under the age of 18.

Under these exemptions, employers may pay a minimum wage of no less than $9.25, plus any additional increases in the CPI. Additionally, as of 2022, the tipped worker wage can be no less than $2.93.
Senator Gopal’s bill requires the Department of Treasury to undertake a series of five annual studies following the initial implementation of the increased minimum wage to assess the overall economic impact of the current wage rate on the State, including but not limited to, the impact on workers, businesses, and the political subdivisions of the State.

Other key points in the bill include:

  • Small businesses are defined as having less than 25, or in the case of small businesses that offer healthcare, less than 50 employees.
  • Seasonal employers are defined as being in business for less than 28 weeks annually.
  • This bill defines an agricultural employer as an employer which operates in the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting sector as defined by the North American Industry Classification System.

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