TRENTON —The Legislature on Thursday approved increasing New Jersey’s minimum wage to $15 an hour for most workers by 2024. The bill is expected to be signed into law Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday.

The bill, A15, was passed 52-25 by the Assembly and 23-16 by the Senate. It was primarily a party-line vote with Democrats in favor except for four who voted no: Sens. Bob Andrzejczak, of Cape May, and Vin Gopal, of Monmouth, and Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matt Milam, both of Cumberland.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said the increase will help around 1 million workers.

“We have a chance to give those who are traditionally low-wage earners the opportunity to take advantage of so many of the things that so many of us have the opportunity to take of and many of us have too often take for granted,” Coughlin said.

Republicans argued that the increase will ultimately hurt low-wage workers because some businesses will reduce jobs or benefits to cope with the mandatory increase in payroll costs.

“The most critical thing is we need an off-ramp,” said Assemblyman Hal Wirths, R-Sussex. “We need something to halt the minimum wage if and when – and we will be going into a recession – to stop and give the small businesses a break.”

Shortly after the vote, Murphy announced on Twitter that he would sign the law Monday.

The minimum wage is now $8.85 an hour. It will go to $10 in July, then increase by $1 on the first of January each of the next four years. For seasonal employees and those working at businesses with five or fewer workers, the minimum wage won’t reach $15 until 2026.

The minimum wage will continue to be adjusted for inflation after 2024, as required by the state constitution, and the minimum for seasonal and small-business workers will reach parity with other workers by 2028.

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