A report from New Jersey Policy Perspective is urging state lawmakers to gradually increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Brandon McKoy with New Jersey Policy Perspective is encouraged by Governor Phil Murphy's economic plan to increase the minimum wage, but he says it should happen this year.
"If it doesn't pass this year then we're talking not getting to $15 until 2024 or later with a five-year increase. That's simply unacceptable because the value of $15 will have eroded so significantly over that time that to say that $15 would actually efficiently address issues of poverty and income insecurity would be irresponsible and wrong," McCoy said.
The advocacy group would like to see it passed without carveouts for farms and young workers. Opponents say raising the minimum wage for farmers would make groceries cost more. But Brandon McKoy with NJ Policy Perspective says a California economist's findings show only a minimal increase.
"His analysis found that the price of blueberries would increase three cents a package. I think we can all agree that it's worth three cents a package to make sure people can put food on the table and provide for their families."
Excluding young workers from a higher wage would be hypocritical, says McKoy.
"For a state that just passed an equal pay amendment, in the interest of saying that there should be no pay discrimination between genders, to then turn around and so, oh unless you were born before the year 2000, 2001, then we can pay you less. That is not carrying the value of equal pay."
Former Governor Chris Christie vetoed a $15 minimum wage bill, but current Governor Phil Murphy says it's a top priority.