With the new year, comes another raise for Massachusetts' lowest wage earners. The bump on Jan. 1 is the last of three hikes that will bring the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour.
This move will make Massachusetts' low-wage earners some of the highest paid in the country. Only the District of Columbia has a higher minimum wage, $11.50 an hour. Washington state's minimum wage is also $11 an hour.
Overthe next five years, nine state minimum-wage rates will surpass Massachusetts. By 2019, minimum wage workers in New York will make $15. California will pay workers $15 by 2022.
In 2014, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a three-step process to increase the minimum wage. It was the first increase to the minimumwage since 2008.
Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has not changed since 2009. Twenty-nine states currently pay workers a higher wage than required under federal law.
Attorney General Maura Healeyreminded employers that tipped workers, like waitresses and bartenders, will also see a bump in earnings come Jan. 1.Any tipped employees making at least $20 a month in tips must be paid a minimum of $3.75 per hour (up from $2.89), provided that, with tips, the employee receives at least $11 per hour. If the total hourly rate for the employee, including tips, does not equal $11, then the employer must make up the difference.
“We are advising people about the minimum wage increase so that employers are aware of their obligations under the law and so that workers know their rights,” Healey said in a statement Wednesday. “Through education, outreach, and enforcement actions where appropriate, we will continue our work to protect the economic security of Massachusetts workers and their families.”
The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division enforces laws that protect workers, including minimum wage, payment of wages, overtime, tip pooling, child labor,Sunday and holiday premium pay, and the public construction bid laws. In 2016, it recovered $2.8 million in restitution and penalties on behalf of people working in Massachusetts.