NJ legislators pass bill hiking minimum wage to $15 by 2024

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New Jersey lawmakers passed legislation to phase in a $15 per hour minimum wage over a span of five years.

The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate approved the measure Thursday, sending it to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk. Murphy has already given the measure his blessing and is expected to sign it Monday.

Raising New Jersey’s minimum wage became a major part of Murphy’s gubernatorial run, but he was unable to get it done in his first year in office due to disagreements with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

RELATED: Cup of coffee and side of confusion over $15 wage at NJ diner 
RELATED: State Assembly panel advances bill phasing in $15 minimum wage 

But Murphy and lawmakers announced a deal earlier this month to make New Jersey the fourth state after California, Massachusetts and New York to phase in the higher wage.

MORE: Lawmakers reach agreement on legislation for $15 per hour minimum wage 

Murphy and legislators say the higher rate is needed so workers can try to keep up in this expensive state.

“The truth of the matter is, history has shown us that raising the minimum wage is actually good for the business community, it’s good for the state of New Jersey, and most importantly it’s good for the people who benefit from it,” Coughlin said.

Industry groups, business owners and Republicans say that they worry the high rate will hurt commerce and further make high-cost New Jersey uncompetitive. They say that business owners may be forced to raise their prices in order to handle the wage increase.

New Jersey's current rate is $8.85 an hour. It will increase to $10 per hour this July.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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