NFIB New Jersey Defeated Two Bad Policy Proposals at End of 2023 Legislative Session as Minimum Wage Reached a Record High

Date: January 17, 2024

Last month, New Jersey’s minimum wage reached $15.13 an hour, and Gov. Murphy stated that he is open to raising it to $18 or $20.

The closing days of the 2023 legislative session saw two significant wins for NFIB members and small business owners in the Garden State. Progressive, labor, and trial lawyer lobbies had pushed throughout the session for Workers’ Comp and Paid Leave law changes that would have added to the already onerous costs and regulatory burdens placed on Main Street Businesses.

The Assembly majority pushed respective bills out of committees and ultimately to passage in the chamber, and NFIB had worked comprehensively to educate lawmakers about the harm the measures would cause small businesses. NFIB member activists were encouraged to contact their representatives, and they responded vigorously.

For example, NFIB joined over 30 organizations in New Jersey to fight against the proposal to raise attorneys’ fees in workers’ compensation cases. The proposed legislation, A5659, would have changed how fees are calculated, making it easier for an attorney to receive a new, raised maximum fee of 25%. Beyond increasing the attorney fee cap in workers’ compensation from 20% to 25%, the bill severely restricted the factors that a judge of compensation could consider when determining the reasonableness of an attorney’s fee request. With 60% of fees required to be paid by the employer, increasing attorneys’ fees would only increase premiums and operational costs for small businesses without providing any new benefits or resources for employees injured on the job. This legislation wasn’t about protecting workers. it was a handout to greedy lawyers.

Fortunately, NFIB kept up the pressure as these bills moved to the Senate, and our members continued to contact their representatives in the upper chamber into the new year. Action continued right until the final day of the of the 2023 session, when, finally, the Paid Leave and Workers’ Comp measures were not enacted. Welcome, if close run, victories for New Jersey’s small business owners.

Minimum Wage Increase

Beginning on January 1st last month, New Jersey’s minimum wage reached a record high of $15.13 an hour. Concerningly, Gov. Murphy recently stated that he is open to raising it to $18 or $20 an hour. To put that into perspective, when Gov. Murphy took office in 2018, the state minimum wage was $8.60 an hour.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the end of last November, New Jersey registered the highest increase in unemployment rate in the nation. The Garden State’s unemployment rate went from 3.3 to 4.7%. 4.7% represents the number of people in New Jersey that don’t have a job and are looking for employment. Simultaneously, the state counted approximately 63,000 filled job positions that it didn’t have a year ago. When both unemployment and employment rate go up at the same time it indicates the number of newly available jobs in not enough to sustain the influx of new entrants into the labor market.

NFIB will fight an increase in minimum wage. A minimum wage increase does not solve the unemployment problem. Employers and the marketplace can best determine hourly wages.




Related Content: Small Business News | New Jersey

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