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

3 hours ago in Entertainment

Today in entertainment history: May 6

georgeclooney535004513551

A look at some of the entertainment headlines that made history.

16 hours ago in Entertainment

‘Oregon Trail,’ ‘Sonic’ join World Video Game Hall of Fame

videogamehall2016AP

Last year, "Super Mario Bros." and "Pong" were among the first inductees to the World Video Game Hall of Fame. The class of 2016 is just as strong.

19 hours ago in Entertainment

Seth MacFarlane returning to Fox with new sci-fi series

sethmacfarlane536713938826

The "Family Guy" star is producing a new series set 300 years in the future.

21 hours ago in Music

Alabama, Sam Moore land Nashville honors

alabama234908545138

Country stars Alabama and soul singer Sam Moore are set to receive stars on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

22 hours ago in Music

Randy Houser is a married man

randyhouser442778222921

The couple exchanged vows at the Homestead Manor in Franklin, Tennessee on Wednesday in front of 120 guests.