Under the deal, many workers would see their wages rise gradually to a $15 an hour, though some, including those employed by small businesses with five or fewer employees, will have to wait longer.
The deal had been held up by a disagreement over which workers should receive $15 an hour and when.
Gov. Phil Murphy called for $15 for all, while his fellow Democrats who lead the state Legislature — Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin — said there must be exceptions made for some employers, including small businesses and farmers. This tension had stalled progress on one of the Democrats' top priorities.
“I’m sorry it took as long as it did, but I think we came up with a really good compromise,” Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told NJ Advance Media. “It took forever, but we got it done.”
The breakthrough announced Thursday is a plan to raise the standard minimum wage to $10 an hour on July 1, $11 an hour in 2020, $12 an hour in 2021, $13 in 2022, $14 in 2023 and $15 in 2024.
“This is a big, big step forward for New Jersey. And particularly, it’s responsible,” Murphy said during a virtual town hall. “We are changing the lives of a million workers in this state. I can’t stress that enough.”
The impact of the deal is far-reaching. New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal Trenton think tank, estimated more than 1 million workers will benefit from the wage hike. But about 10 percent of those employees will be put on a slower path.
Seasonal workers and small business employees won’t reach $15 an hour until 2026. Farm workers will hit $12.50 in 2024, after which it would be left up to state officials in the executive branch whether to keep going to $15 an hour by 2027.
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