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Massachusetts minimum wage set to rise to $15 per hour starting in January

(Photo Courtesy of “A disgruntled Massachusetts resident holds a sign at the  State House in favor of a rise to $15/hr.”

Michael Van Arnam
Connector Staff

Massachusetts will be raising its minimum wage from $14.25 an hour to $15 an hour in January of 2023 according to the official website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. For tipped employees the rate will increase from $6.15 an hour to $6.75 an hour according to the website as well.

The increase will follow the same trend from the beginning of this year when the minimum wage rate in Massachusetts increased from $13.50 an hour to the current rate of pay.

A $15 minimum wage will more than double that of the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Massachusetts already has the highest minimum wage than all of its New England counterparts according to each state’s respective government website.

“A state’s minimum wage tends to correlate with its cost of living, so a state with a higher cost of living, such as Massachusetts, generally should have a higher minimum wage,” says Monica Galizzi, a professor of economics at UMass Lowell.

“The reason why states increase minimum wages is usually to use as a tool to fight poverty and low income,” said Galizzi. “So, the idea is, you believe that the cost of living in a state has become so high that to guarantee people a decent living, you need to make sure they make at least a certain amount of money.”

“On top of responding to a higher cost of living, Massachusetts has traditionally been a labor-friendly state that is willing to pass reforms for workers,” said Galizzi.

Political preferences also influence a state’s minimum wage.

“States which are more Republican are traditionally against increasing minimum wage because of the argument that it will hurt businesses and actually damage employment,” said Galizzi. “So the minimum wage is always a battle, which is fought along political lines.”

“A common objection that people have to the raising of minimum wages is that it will lead to employers hiring fewer workers and in turn impair the economy,” said Galizzi.

“A state’s minimum wage more greatly affects low-skill workers or youthful members of the workforce who rely on hourly pay. Educated and skilled workers who make exceptionally more than minimum-wage pay are not as dramatically impacted,” said Galizzi.

“The rising of a state’s minimum wage tends to be planned ahead and gradual rather than abruptly changed. If a state increases its minimum wage too rapidly or too generously, they risk becoming unappealing to new businesses or pushing current business to relocate to other states,” says Galizzi.

The demand for higher wages is becoming more prevalent and urgent with inflation affecting the cost of living, especially among low-income workers who suffer the most from inflation.

“When we look at how much more things cost at supermarkets–the people with low incomes are the ones who will spend a very large amount of income on food,” said Galizzi.

Galizzi believes that Massachusetts raising its minimum wage will be beneficial for the state and its citizens. She says many private employers in Massachusetts already pay their employees at least $15 an hour, so the raise will let all workers of private employers receive that pay.

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