New Jersey becomes 4th state to approve $15 hourly wage

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ELIZABETH -

One of Gov. Phil Murphy’s major campaign objectives has now become a reality.

The governor Monday signed into law a measure that raises the hourly minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years.

Murphy, a Democrat, signed the legislation in Elizabeth alongside Democratic legislative leaders.

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The bill raises the current $8.85 minimum wage to $10 an hour in July, and then increases the rate by $1 in subsequent years until it reaches $15 in 2024. Tipped workers, such as wait staff and seasonal workers, will see their wages raised a bit more slowly.

 “It is a great day to make some history for New Jersey's working families and that's just what we're going to do,” Murphy said. “We've talked long enough about putting New Jersey on a responsible path to $15 minimum wage. Today we start our way on this path.”

But state Republicans and many businesses have said that they oppose the higher rate, saying it will raise costs.

State Sen. Kip Bateman said in a statement, “I don't think we have left our over-taxed and over-regulated business owners with any other alternative than to replace people with technology or close all together…To someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, what's worse: having a job that doesn't pay enough? Or no job at all? The answer is pretty clear."

New Jersey becomes the fourth state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact a phased-in $15 minimum wage. California, Massachusetts and New York have adopted similar proposals.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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