Massachusetts Senate Passes $11 Minimum Wage Bill, Will Federal Wage Increase Follow?
The Massachusetts state senate voted to raise the minimum wage from $8 to $11 on Tuesday, with 32 of the chamber’s 39 members voting in favor of the hike. The bill is fully expected to be signed by Governor Deval Patrick who has been a supportive of a minimum wage increase. The bill would also link future minimum wage increases to inflation, similar to 10 other states who have implemented a minimum wage scale tied to the cost of living.
The minimum wage hike is Massachusetts’ first since 2008. The bill would increase the current $8 per hour minimum wage to $11 gradually by 2016. To ensure that the state doesn’t go five years between minimum wage increases again, legislators have ensured that the minimum wage will increase annually based on the rate of inflation. The bill also requires the minimum wage to always be at least 50 cents greater than the federal minimum wage, not a hard task to accomplish since their new minimum wage will be $3.75 per hour higher than the current $7.25 federal minimum wage.
Another amendment in the bill would increase the minimum wage of tipped workers, currently $2.63 per hour in Massachusetts, to half of regular workers. That would mean tipped workers like waiters would get at least $5.50 per hour by 2016, plus tips.
In recent years, California, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington have all increased their minimum wage to at least $9 per hour. While state movements grow to create a decent minimum wage, and ensure that the minimum wage continues to increase based on inflation, a national movement is gaining momentum as well.
Senators Tom Harkin and George Miller recently introduced a bill that would increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. President Obama has already come out in support of the legislation, as have major union leaders. Republicans have not been against a minimum wage increase entirely but are unlikely to go for such a large hike. Just like most congressional bills, nothing is expected to happen until after the Republican primaries late next year.
(Image courtesy of Rappaport Center)