Raise Up Massachusetts, a labor union-supported coalition, has been pushing a ballot initiative petition that would raise the state’s minimum wage, and now lawmakers are considering the measure. At a recent hearing, supporters and opponents testified before legislators about the issue.
While minimum wage workers currently earn $11 per hour, under the proposal from Raise Up, the state’s base wage would increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2022. At that point, the rate would be tied to inflation and automatically increase with the cost of living.
NFIB/MA State Director Christopher Carlozzi spoke out about small business’ objections: “Taking money out and increasing labor costs means less money for them to grow, to expand, to hire new workers,” he said. Worse yet, small businesses who simply cannot afford to increase their payroll could force them to cut workers, close up shop, or raise prices on consumers.
The Legislature has until May to pass the petition, amend it, or take no action. They may want to consider the results of a recent study on California’s $15 minimum wage, as NFIB/MA believes Massachusetts would face a similar fate. The economists who conducted the study found that for each 10 percent increase in the state’s minimum wage, there was a 5 percent reduction in employment in industries with more low-wage workers. They also estimate that California will lose 400,000 jobs as a result of a higher minimum wage by 2022.