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'That's What We Fight For': Mass. Minimum Wage Begins Climb To $1502:07
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Fast-food restaurant employees and other workers marched in a "Fight for 15" demonstration in Boston in 2015. The Massachusetts minimum wage will rise to $12 per hour on Jan. 1 and gradually increase to $15 per hour in 2023. (Steven Senne/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
Fast-food restaurant employees and other workers marched in a "Fight for 15" demonstration in Boston in 2015. The Massachusetts minimum wage will rise to $12 per hour on Jan. 1 and gradually increase to $15 per hour in 2023. (Steven Senne/AP)

With the new year, the state minimum wage is now $12 per hour, a rise of $1.

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a think tank that advocates for a higher minimum wage, estimates 662,000 workers will get raises because of the change.

Ana Veras is one of them. The Brockton mother of four works 70 hours per week.

A full-time job as a certified nurse aide pays $13 per hour. A second job with a home care agency pays only $11.50 for tasks that include helping patients shower and doing their laundry.

Veras will make an extra 50 cents per hour as the minimum wage goes up. The raise amounts to about $780 in gross wages in the new year.

(WBUR chart; Source: U.S. Department of Labor, state of Massachusetts)
(WBUR chart; Source: U.S. Department of Labor, state of Massachusetts)

Veras has her eyes on a bigger prize down the line. Massachusetts' minimum wage will tick up every year until 2023, when it hits $15 per hour.

"Fifteen will be fair," she said. "That's what we fight for, so it will be good."

Good for the whole state economy, according to the Budget and Policy Center.

"For one thing, higher-wage jobs are better jobs, so there's reduced turnover," said senior policy analyst Jeremy Thompson. "[The] second piece is that higher wages lead to increases in productivity. And then, of course, there's also the increased consumer demand. One thing we know about low-wage workers is they tend to spend their raises in the local economy."

Some businesses agree with this analysis. But others say labor costs are rising too fast.

"For a small business, they have to see sales coming in that go with what they're paying out in labor costs," said Chris Carlozzi, the Massachusetts director of the National Federation of Independent Business. "I don't think they're going to see that."

As recently as 2014, the state's minimum wage was $8 per hour. So, when the minimum reaches $15, it will have nearly doubled in less than a decade.

This segment aired on December 26, 2018.

Related:

Callum Borchers Twitter Reporter
Callum covers the Greater Boston business community for Bostonomix.

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