Sweeney’s $2 Minimum Wage Increase Is Now Law

NEW BRUNSWICK – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney to increase the State’s minimum wage by $2 was signed into law today by Governor Richard J. Codey. The increase will take place over a two year period, first raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 in October of 2005 and again to $7.15 in October of 2006. The signing took place at a public ceremony, where Senator Sweeney was present.

“The signing of this legislation marks the beginning of a new day for the State’s working poor,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland. “The majority of minimum wage earners are people over the age of twenty, working to support families on an amount that just barely allows them to provide the basic necessities.”

News From NJ Senate Democrats

Released on: April 12, 2005

For information, contact:

Cara Noel

Tel: (609) 292-5215

Fax: (609) 984-1235

E-Mail: cnoel@njleg.org

SWEENEY’S $2 MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE IS NOW LAW

NEW BRUNSWICK – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney to increase the State’s minimum wage by $2 was signed into law today by Governor Richard J. Codey. The increase will take place over a two year period, first raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 in October of 2005 and again to $7.15 in October of 2006. The signing took place at a public ceremony, where Senator Sweeney was present.

“The signing of this legislation marks the beginning of a new day for the State’s working poor,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland. “The majority of minimum wage earners are people over the age of twenty, working to support families on an amount that just barely allows them to provide the basic necessities.”

Senator Sweeney’s measure, S-2065, increases the State’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 and creates the “New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission,” comprised of the State Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and four gubernatorial appointees. The Commission will annually evaluate the State’s minimum wage and issue reports detailing recommendations for necessary wage increases. The Commission’s first report is due to the Legislature no later than December of 2007.

New Jersey’s first minimum wage law was enacted in 1966 at the rate of $1.25 per hour. Since 1966, the minimum wage has equaled the federal minimum wage for 17 years. In 1999, a ten-cent increase brought the minimum wage to its current level.

“With the 1999 increase, then Governor Christie Whitman signed a law to ensure that the State’s minimum wage never exceeded the national minimum wage level,” said Senator Sweeney. “This was essentially a law that forced New Jersey’s minimum wage workers to remain in poverty.”

Senator Sweeney noted that with current inflation levels a minimum wage of $5.15 is more equivalent to earning $4.51, according to a report by the Poverty Research Institute of Legal Services of New Jersey. He also noted that the idea of teenagers being the only ones earning $5.15 is incorrect. Studies have shown that most workers earning minimum wage are over the age of 20.

“This minimum wage increase will occur because I believe that the Government realizes that it is past time to step up and give New Jersey’s working poor the chance to attain self-sufficiency,” said Senator Sweeney.

The measure passed the Senate on February 14.

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