NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- In an exclusive one-on-one interview with Eyewitness News, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy discussed the new law that will phase in a boost in the state's hourly minimum wage to $15 over the next five years.
It has been called one of the crowning achievements of Murphy's first year in office.
"It will transform lives," said the governor. "More women than men, more communities of color than not, lots of college educated and lots of people going to college."
The day the governor signed the bill was welcomed by many. He believes it was the right thing to do for workers in the state.
"It's a huge milestone, but you're not on easy street with two incomes of $15 or two dependents either," he said. "You're in a much better place."
But in a state where taxes, insurance and competition are high, the wage hike could hurt small business.
"It's a recipe to be out of business for small business because right now we're only forced to cut the number of employees or cut the hours of employees," said Danho Jallo, who has owned an Exxon gas station on Route 9 in Parlin for years and says he is still trying to figure out how to handle the wage hike.
"Why get involved in this and set a standard that's higher than we can achieve," he said.
"Many of these small businesses, they don't have profit margin themselves, they have nowhere to go to when their expenses increase," said Michele Siekerka of the New Jersey Business and Industry Association.
The minimum wage is set to go to $10 on July 1, then go up another dollar on Jan. 1, 2020. "That's very steep for any business," said Siekerka. "Think about your own expenses. If you had to pick up an extra 35 percent expense tomorrow, where are you going to make that up?"
After next year, the minimum wage will go up a dollar every year until it hits $15 in 2024.
"You get what you pay for," said Murphy. "In other words, if you pay a little bit more, hopefully a lot more, you're able to retain employees, you're able to more sensibly train them."
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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy sits down with Eyewitness News to discuss minimum wage hike
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