Minimum Wages in Massachusetts 2018
The Massachusetts legislature is debating the laws concerning minimum wage in the state, and people are pushing the government to consider increasing the minimum wage in the upcoming years. Minimum wage has been a consistent point of controversy within the government and among the state’s citizens. Minimum wage laws specifically affecting teenage workers are at the center the debate, and opinions on both sides of the issue have led to contested interpretations of key statistics. The conversation has hit a crucial point, and the state is looking to turn words into action by placing a motion on the ballot.
The Current Wage
In Massachusetts, more than 104,000 teenagers are working, and most of them would be affected if there were an increase in the minimum wage. The current minimum wage is $11, the highest of the New England states, and more than $3 higher than the current federal minimum wage. However, some of the states in the New England region are considering minimum wage increases that could surpass Massachusetts’ current wage. Vermont and Maine already have planned increases that will automatically take place, upping minimum wage to rate that would be higher than Massachusetts within the next two years.
Many people in the state are fighting for an increase, as well, so Massachusetts can continue to be the most generous state in New England for minimum wage. They are requesting that the wage move up to $15 within the next year if the issue appears on the ballot. A group called Raise Up Massachusetts has collected enough signatures to place the proposition there.
The Effect of a Higher Wage
This request has been met with varying opinions. Many businesses claim that they would hire fewer teenagers if the minimum wage were higher because of the amount of training and the learning curve that often comes with hiring a teenager. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center is refuting this, claiming that it would help teenagers without negatively affecting employment rates. It has published a report that claims 89% of teenagers would get a raise if the minimum wage were increased in the next four years.
The report also states that teenagers make up 10% of the workers who would receive a raise, and that they would contribute an average of 7.4% of their family’s wages, allowing teens to provide a larger amount of income for a household. Therefore, an increase in minimum wage could have a strong effect on lower-income families. Massachusetts budget President Noah Berger agrees with this assertion, claiming that the state economy has remained strong with wage increases.
Some Massachusetts businesses have introduced the idea of creating a “teen wage.” This would allow an exception to the minimum wage increase. Teenagers could be paid less than the minimum wage under this law. The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center has reported that the number of working teenagers relates to economic trends more than minimum wage increases, claims that the unemployment rate of people between the ages of 16 and 19 is at its lowest level in 19 years, even if it is currently the highest in the New England region.