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Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a law raising the state's $8 per hour minimum wage to $11 per hour - a high among U.S. states - by 2017.
Patrick told a Statehouse ceremony on Thursday that the new law would provide some relief to low-income workers, while noting it would still not be a "livable wage" for many Massachusetts residents.
The first increase in the minimum wage, to $9 an hour, will take effect on Jan. 1.
Activists had gathered some 350,000 signatures around the state to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot had the law not been passed.
President Barack Obama praised Massachusetts lawmakers last week for "standing up for working men and women."
The measure also would gradually raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, such as restaurant servers.