Minimum Wage Will Go Up to $11 in the Next Three Years [Updated]

Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill making hourly pay in Massachusetts the highest in the country.
Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

UPDATE:

On Thursday, Governor Deval Patrick signed legislation that will raise the minimum wage for workers to $11 over the next three years, making Massachusetts a leader in how much states pay their employees by the hour.

“Raising the minimum wage brings a little relief to the working poor, many of whom do jobs we could not live without and who recycle money right back into the economy,” said Patrick in a statement. “By signing this bill, we show the Nation that opportunity can and must be spread outward, not just upward. I thank the Legislature for their important work in reaching this milestone.”

Starting next year, the minimum wage will go up to $9 an hour, and will increase by $1 each year through 2017. Wages for tipped workers will go up to $3.75 per hour by 2017. The law also lowers costs for businesses through an updated unemployment insurance rating table and multi-year rate freeze, according to officials.

“Increasing the minimum wage to $11 an hour will provide much-needed relief to many hard-working residents and, by updating our unemployment insurance rating table and introducing a multi-rate freeze for our businesses, we are rewarding responsible companies and providing more financial predictability,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “These changes are necessary to create an environment here in Massachusetts where residents can succeed and thrive.”

EARLIER:

A minimum wage bill that would bump people’s pay to $11 per hour by 2017 is on its way to Governor Deval Patrick’s desk for his signature.

Late Thursday night, the Senate and House of Representatives passed a final version of minimum wage legislation that would increase hourly pay over the next three years, and lower costs for businesses through an updated unemployment insurance rating table and multi-year rate freeze, according to elected officials. The minimum wage would gradually increase by $1 each year through 2017.

“With this vote to increase the minimum wage and to reform our unemployment insurance system, the Legislature has strengthened two important aspects of our state’s social and economic fabric,” said House Speaker Robert DeLeo.

The bill, if signed by the governor, will also increase pay for tipped workers and farmers. According to language in the proposal, wages for tipped workers will go up to $3.75 per hour by 2017, increasing more than $1 from the current set wage. Minimum wage for agriculture and farming will see an even steeper increase, and shoot to $8 per hour from $1.60 per hour.

President Barack Obama, who has been calling for a federal increase of the minimum wage, pushing pay to $10.10 an hour, applauded local legislators on their efforts to set a new standard. If Patrick signs the legislation, Massachusetts will become the state with the highest minimum wage in the country.

“I commend the Massachusetts Legislature for standing up for working men and women in the Commonwealth and taking action toward raising the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017,” Obama said in a statement Thursday. “Under the leadership of Governor Patrick, Massachusetts joins a growing coalition of states, cities, and counties that are doing part to make sure no American working full-time has to support a family in poverty. I look forward to Governor Patrick signing this bill into law soon, and I urge Congress to follow Massachusetts’ lead.”

A group called Raise Up Massachusetts has been fighting for the last year to call attention to increasing the state’s current minimum wage of $8. They have rallied at the State House, and garnered enough support to get a question before voters on the subject for the 2014 election season. The organization said Thursday that they’d consider withdrawing their own proposal if Patrick sings the bill into law.

“Giving Massachusetts the highest minimum wage in the country would help more than 600,000 families who deserve to earn fair wages. The minimum wage bill passed by the Legislature…is a positive step,” they said in a statement. “We are continuing to turn in signatures to local cities and towns, and the bill would need to be signed by the Governor before our signature gathering deadline in order for us to consider withdrawing our ballot question.”


Steve Annear Steve Annear, Digital Writer at Boston Magazine sannear@bostonmagazine.com