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Senate Passes Bill to Restore Minimum Wage

November 19, 2013

The Massachusetts Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that will restore the value of the minimum wage in Massachusetts by increasing the minimum wage to $11 by 2016 and tying future increases to the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast region. The bill also increases wages for tipped workers to 50 percent of the minimum wage.

“Raising the minimum wage helps so many working individuals and families across the Commonwealth who are struggling to make a living and support their families,” Senator Karen Spilka said. “We are responding to the needs of a rapidly changing economy, demonstrating our continued commitment to the state’s most vulnerable and also supporting local businesses, restaurants and shops. When people earn more money, they have more money to spend and to help the local economy continue to grow.”

Adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage in 1968 would be worth $10.72 today. A full-time worker earning minimum wage in 1968 earned $21,400 in today’s dollars – approximately $5,400 dollars more than a full-time minimum wage worker earns today.

The poverty rate in Massachusetts has increased by 20 percent since 2006, and the child poverty rate has increased by 25 percent. Poverty is consistently linked to negative health outcomes and lower academic achievement. In addition, the school dropout rate for low-income families is 4.5 times higher than for higher earning families.

The legislatures in four other states – California, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island – enacted bills to increase the minimum wage starting in 2014. In addition, New Jersey voters approved a Constitutional amendment this month to raise the minimum wage in 2014 and tie increases to cost of living.

Under this bill, Massachusetts will join ten other states that currently index the minimum wage to inflation.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.

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