Senate President Therese Murray told business leaders it may be time for Massachusetts to raise the minimum wage.
"By identifying what a living wage is in Massachusetts, we can have a positive impact on families, and especially single parents who are trying to improve the lives of their children," Murray told members of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce at a breakfast Thursday morning.
The minimum wage in the Bay State is $8 an hour, and hasn't been increased since 2008.
At that rate, Murray said, Massachusetts adults make only $16,704 a year, well below the federal poverty level.
Murray pointed to nearby states that are taking steps to bump up their minimum wages. In Maine, legislation is pending that would boost the amount to $9 per hour by 2016, with annual adjustments based on inflation.
New Yorkers will also be paid at least $9 an hour by the end of 2015.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. President Obama has proposed raising it to $10.10 by 2015, with yearly increases tied to inflation.
On Jan. 1, Washington state raised its minimum wage to $9.19, the highest in the United States.
The Massachusetts welfare system also needs another look, according to Murray, who said the current rules "continue to serve as incentives for individuals to stay on welfare instead of working."
Murray encouraged the Department of Transitional Assistance to provide more training, education and job placement programs for welfare recipients.
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBos