💲 This is the last minimum-wage increase tied to a 2019 law

💲 Not all low-wage workers are eligible for the $15.13 hourly pay

💲 There are rules in place that can keep increasing the minimum

New Jersey's minimum wage is about to meet and exceed Gov. Phil Murphy's goal of $15 per hour.

The change coming on Jan. 1 may be the last one that's directly tied to a law signed by Murphy in 2019, but the wage floor can continue to move in 2025 and beyond.

What is NJ's new minimum wage?

The statewide minimum wage will increase $1 to a total of $15.13 per hour when the calendar turns to January.

"It impacts most employers in the state," said Adam Kleinfeldt, an employment attorney with Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt in Hackensack.

The law Murphy signed more than four years ago dictated that the minimum wage would increase by at least $1 on annual basis through the beginning of 2024.  The increase could be greater depending on the Consumer Price Index — for example, the minimum wage increased by $1.13 from 2022 to 2023.

Are there exceptions to NJ's $15 minimum wage?

The minimum wage hike is a significant change for employers, and some will have more time to absorb the blow.

Under the law, folks who work for seasonal employers or those with fewer than six workers will see their minimum wage increase by 80 cents on Jan. 1, to $13.73 per hour. These employers have until 2026 to reach the $15 mark.

Agricultural workers don't have to hit a $15 hourly wage until 2027. And long-term care facility direct care staff are already earning above the statewide goal, with their floor rising by $1 in 2024, to $18.13 per hour.

The wage minimum for tipped workers will remain at $5.26 per hour. Business owners would only have to make up the difference if the combination of a worker's tips and per-hour wage does not equal an hourly rate of $15.13.

What happens next with NJ's minimum wage?

New Jersey's constitution requires annual adjustments to the minimum wage based on inflation, and that rule will remain in tact when the final portion of Murphy's law takes effect on Jan. 1.

So, minimum-wage workers shouldn't fear that $15.13 will be their ceiling until the next monumental law comes around.

Murphy recently indicated on a call-in radio show that he'd be open to a mandatory minimum wage in New Jersey of $18 to $20, phased in over time.

New Jersey is one of a dozen or so states that tie their minimum wage to inflation, Kleinfeldt said.

Workers who believe they're not being the paid the legal minimum can file a complaint with the Department of Labor to launch an investigation, or sue their employer.

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