The Massachusetts Senate approved a measure that will hike the minimum wage in that state from $8 to $11 per hour by 2016, and increases after that will be automatically adjusted for inflation.
The bill passed 32-7 Tuesday and now moves on to the state House; Gov. Deval Patrick has said he supports increasing minimum wage.
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The incremental increases will start in July 2014 and will continue until reaching the $11 mark in 2016, after which they’ll be tied to the Northeast’s Consumer Price Index.
The issue has received a lot of attention, both for and against it.
“Hard-working people working full-time and being paid our minimum wage now are living in poverty," Democratic Sen. Dan Wolf told The Associated Press. "Raising the minimum wage is an important step
to rebalancing our top-heavy economy."
But others said running the minimum wage up will hurt businesses that run tight profit margins, like restaurants, and also may put jobs out of reach for teenagers, who will be priced out of the market.
The increase would make Massachusetts one of the highest-paying states in regard to minimum wage, and Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, told MassLive it will increase employer costs too much
“We’ve got to be in line with what competitors are doing,” he told MassLive. Nearby states are raising minimum wage, but not by much. Rhode Island will go to $8 per hour in January, while Connecticut and New York are jumping to $9 at different times in 2015.
About 600,000 Massachusetts workers will be impacted by the new wages, MassLive said. The Senate also voted to increase the wages of servers and others who work primarily for tips, from $2.63 per hour to half of minimum wage.
MassLive said the House probably won’t vote on the minimum wage hike until next year.
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