TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senator Stephen M. Sweeney that would increase the State’s minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.15 over two years received final legislative approval today in the Assembly.
“This measure is about helping the State’s working poor to attain self-sufficiency,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. “These people are working long hours, and barely earning enough to provide the basic necessities for themselves and their families. An increase in the minimum wage is the only way to ease the burden on the State’s working poor.”
Senator Sweeney’s measure, S-2065, would increase the State’s minimum wage twice over the next two years – first to $6.15 in October of 2005 and again to $7.15 in October of 2006. The bill would also create the “New Jersey Minimum Wage Advisory Commission,” to annually evaluate the State’s minimum wage and issue reports detailing recommendations for necessary wage increases. The first report would be due to the Legislature no later than December of 2007. The Commission would be comprised of the State Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development and four gubernatorial appointees.
New Jersey’s first minimum wage law was enacted in 1966 at the rate of $1.25 per hour. Since its introduction, 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.
“Many minimum wage earners are working to pay bills, and feed and clothe families on a mere $5.15 an hour,” said Senator Sweeney. ” Its time for the State to step up to the plate and do right by these workers.”
This measure passed the Senate on February 14, and it now heads to the Governor’s desk where his signature would make it State law.