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 Music

Concert-goes hospitalized during Keith Urban show

Keith Urban arrives at the 56th annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Things got a bit crazy at Keith Urban's Massachusetts show on Saturday night.

in Entertainment

Fans support campaign to keep Sean Bean alive in new show

British actor Sean Bean arrives for a special UK screening of Cleanskin, at the Mayfair Hotel in central London, Monday, March 5, 2012.

The "Game of Thrones" actor has died more than 20 times in his career, and fans want it to stop.

in Entertainment

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ sequel set for 2017

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Marvel unveils plans to press ahead with a sequel to "Guardians of the Galaxy," days before the superhero movie even hits theaters.

in Lifestyle

Amazon offers 3D printing to customize products

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado on July 28, 2008.

Amazon will offer 3D printing services that allow customers to customize and build earrings, bobble head toys and other items.

in Lifestyle

U.S. doctor contracts Ebola in Liberia

In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan's Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Brantly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan's Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia.

American doctor, Kent Brantley, has tested positive for the tropical disease Ebola.