Report: $11 minimum wage in Massachusetts would cost $1.16 billion by 2016

Five habits that will save you money.
Massachusetts lawmakers are mulling the idea of raising the minimum wage to $11. File photo

As state senators began debating a bill raising the minimum wage from $8 to $11 an hour,  an interactive calculator used by The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center is estimating that 589,000 people across the state would see an increase in their wages If the minimum wage were raised to $11 an hour by 2016.

Under that bill, the total increase in wages by 2016 would be $1.16 billion. The first step of the proposed wage hike – to $9 an hour in 2014 – would increase the wages of 284,000 people at a total cost of $201 million, according to the Center.

The tool also enables users to break down impacts of a minimum wage hike by race, gender, income and education.

In a separate report, the center estimated a full-time minimum wage worker in Massachusetts makes $16,000 in 2013, about $5,000 less than he or she would earn if the minimum wage had been adjusted for inflation since 1968.

The center estimates less than 10 percent of the workforce in communities like Newton, Brookline, Needham and Wellesley would be affected by a minimum wage hike to $10.50 an hour.

By contrast, more than 20 percent of the workforce would be affected in most of western Massachusetts, Worcester, Leominster, Fitchburg Central Cape Cod, New Bedford, Attleboro, Taunton, Brockton, Somerville-Everett, Malden-Medford, Chelsea, Revere, Winthrop, Lynn, Lawrence, and Lowell.

In a letter to senators Tuesday, Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst said the proposed wage hike would hurt the ability of Massachusetts businesses to compete with other states and said the Massachusetts minimum wage should remain in line with similar wage laws around the nation, noting $11 would be the highest minimum wage in the U.S.

Hurst estimated 50 percent fewer teens are working in Massachusetts today compared to more than a decade ago, asserting that a high minimum wage and the requirement that retailers pay time and a half pay to employees who work on Sunday are “job killers for Massachusetts youth.”

In opening arguments for the bill, Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), co-chairman of the Labor and Workforce Development, said the top 1 percent of earners in the United States have reaped 95 percent of the gains in the most recent economic recovery, while full-time minimum wage earners are “living in poverty.”

Wolf predicted a higher minimum wage indexed to inflation would strengthen the middle class, neighborhoods, the government, the state’s tax base and the “moral foundation” of Massachusetts.

Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) said Massachusetts currently has the eighth highest minimum wage in the nation. A 37.5 percent increase in the minimum wage is contemplated under the bill, said Tarr, who called for debate over “how best to increase the minimum wage” rather than on whether it should be raised. Tarr said senators, by not addressing other business costs in its bill, were considering the wage floor hike “in a vacuum.”

House leaders have expressed a preference to consider a minimum wage hike proposal in connection with unemployment insurance system reforms sought by business groups.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.