SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An estimated 280-thousand workers in Massachusetts started the New Year off with a raise.
Minimum wage workers are now making $1.00 more, raising their hourly wage from $9 to $10.
The minimum wage increase went into effect New Year’s Day.
Service industry employees, including waiters and waitresses, also got a raise. Their wages increased from $3 an hour to $3.35 an hour, but to get the additional 35 cents, they’re first required to make at least $20 in tips, and have an average income of $11 an hour including tips each month.
The minimum wage raise was approved by the state legislature in 2014, but not everyone was in favor of it. Some businesses argued wage hikes can ultimately hurt workers by triggering higher prices for goods and services.
Springfield resident Josh Rios told 22News he agrees that the cost-of-living could increase to offset the higher wages. “I honestly don’t think that will help at all. The cost-of-living is going up, so if they make an extra dollar, the cost-of-living will just go up, as well,” he said.
$10 is the highest minimum wage in the country.
Several other states including Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Michigan, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Vermont also raised their minimum wage New Year’s Day.
On Thursday, New York increased their minimum wage to $9 an hour, and that same day, West Virginia increased theirs to $8.75 an hour.
Attorney General Maura Healey said the raise will give minimum wage workers more security, but noted that the state should still find other solutions to fight poverty.
One of those solutions is set to happen in 2017, when the state’s minimum wage will increase yet again from $10 an hour to $11 an hour
That will be nearly $4.00 more than the federal minimum wage, which has remained stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009.