News

Massachusetts raises minimum wage to highest in U.S.

Massachusetts raises minimum wage to highest in U.S.

MONEY:It will raise the state's minimum wage in stages from its current level of $8 per hour and follows similar moves by neighboring Connecticut and Vermont. Photo: clipart.com

By Elizabeth Barber

BOSTON (Reuters) – Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is scheduled on Thursday to sign into law a measure raising the minimum wage to the highest of any U.S. state, $11 per hour, by 2017.

The move will come as U.S. Democrats nationally are trying to make the minimum wage a key issue ahead of midterm congressional elections in November, framing the effort as a quest of conscience on behalf of the millions of Americans living on wages that have not kept up with rising costs of living.

A spokeswoman for Patrick said he would sign the bill at 11 a.m.

It will raise the state’s minimum wage in stages from its current level of $8 per hour and follows similar moves by neighboring Connecticut and Vermont.

The first minimum wage increase in Massachusetts since 2008 is expected to benefit some 500,000 workers statewide, said state Representative Thomas Conroy, who is a Democrat like Patrick.

“A lot of these folks are really struggling on the margins and they deserve a raise,” Conroy said. “It’s one small step toward addressing an income inequality issue that I think so many Americans are finding really frustrating.”

The law does not include provisions to tie minimum wage increases after 2017 to inflation, which Patrick had sought.

Some Republican state legislators had backed an increase to $9.50 over three years, saying that a more modest raise would put less of a burden on the state’s businesses.

“We realize the impact that raising the wage is going to have on the business community,” said Gina McLaughlin, policy analyst for state Representative Brad Jones, who voted against the bill.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s effort to raise the nation’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour failed to win support in either the Republican-controlled House of Representatives or the Democratic-controlled Senate, with opponents saying an increase would cost jobs.

In the absence of federal action, states have gone ahead with their own legislation to up entry-level wages. Vermont will raise its minimum to $10.50 per hour by 2018, with Connecticut, Hawaii and Maryland all moving toward a $10.10 minimum.

The District of Columbia earlier this year adopted an $11.50 minimum, to take effect in 2016, and Seattle’s city council voted this month to raise its minimum to $15 an hour over the next seven years.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Bill Trott)

Recent Headlines

in National, World

Iran, world powers push for nuclear deal as deadline looms

Fresh
nuclear

With a deadline hours away, negotiations over a preliminary deal on Tehran's nuclear program continue.

in National

10 FOR TODAY: Tuesday, March 31

Fresh
germanwings

Your daily look at the stories that will be talked about today.

in Sports, Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: David Beckham for ‘D&J Briefs’

Fresh
21-overlay5

It's underwear for a man with a great body ... and David Beckham.

in Sports

Aaron Rodgers and CBS reporter duke it out on Twitter

aaronrodgers

Dennis Dodd was not happy that the Packers QB refused an interview request during Saturday night's game ... and he made sure everyone knew it.

in National

FBI: Shooting at NSA gate at Fort Meade not related to terrorism

NSAshooting

Officials say two men, disguised as women, tried to ram the gates of Fort Meade, where the National Security Agency is housed.