The Mass. Senate approved a minimum wage hike from $8 to $11 over the next three years. PHOTO: File
Low-wage workers in Massachusetts can look forward to making nearly 40 percent more money over the next three years.
The Massachusetts Senate voted 35-4 Thursday to pass legislation that will raise the minimum wage in three increments from $8 an hour to $11 an hour.
The hourly minimum wage would go to $9 on Jan. 1, 2015, to $10 the following new year, and finally to $11 on Jan. 1, 2017.
The measure does not include a provision for future annual increases to keep up with inflation.
Raising the wage to $11 would impact nearly 600,000 low-wage workers - about 1 of every 6 - according to the Economic Policy Institute. However opponents fear that businesses will lay off workers if they can’t afford to pay the higher minimum wage.
Massachusetts members of Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a Boston-based network of business owners and executives, commended the hike, which many have described as a House-Senate compromise.
"A higher minimum wage will boost sales, keep more dollars circulating in our local economy, and reduce the strain on our social safety net caused by poverty wages," said Holly Sklar, the network's director.
A #WageAction drew hundreds of low wage workers across a variety of industries Thursday, marching from Copley Square through Downtown Boston on demanding heavier paychecks.
The demonstration came on the heels of nationwide protests for McDonald’s and Walmart as well as last week's groundbreaking implementation of a $15 minimum wage in Seattle.