Seeking to expand economic opportunity for working people in the Commonwealth, the legislature has voted to increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2017. This will raise the wages of about 600,000 people who work hard, at low wages, to support themselves and their families. In addition to helping these families and individuals, a minimum wage increase can also have positive effects on the overall economy, as higher wages allow workers to spend more at local businesses. When fully phased in, the increase will raise annual wages for affected workers by approximately $1.1 billion.
Who are the 600,000 people whose wages will increase?
- Together they are one-in-five wage earners in the Commonwealth.
- Over 85 percent are twenty years old or older – and younger workers who are helped are often working to pay for college or to help their family with basic expenses.
- 57 percent are women.
- 140,000 of the affected workers are parents – and 236,000 children live in households that will be helped by the increase.
This legislation would raise the wage in three steps: to $9/hour in 2015, to $10/hour in 2016, and to $11/hour in 2017 (on January 1st of each year). These wage increases would not be indexed to inflation. (For more discussion of indexing, see MassBudget’s factsheet Value of Minimum Wage Is Eroded Quickly by Inflation.) In addition, the “tipped minimum wage" - which allows employers to pay tipped workers a lower wage (as long as tips bring the workers' pay up to the regular minimum wage) - would rise slightly, from the current rate of $2.63/hour to a final rate of $3.75/hour, also by 2017. (For more discussion of the tipped minimum, see MassBudget’s factsheet The Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers.)
At $11 an hour in 2017, Massachusetts would have the highest state minimum wage in the nation – unless other states raise their wage above that level during the next three years.