Small business group supports lower teen wage if minimum wage increase adopted

Ballot question would establish $15 per hour minimum wage by 2022

BOSTON (WWLP)—An initiative petition headed for the 2018 ballot would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. But some business groups believe the move may be difficult for small businesses to absorb and want the state to implement a lower wage for teen workers.

If the minimum wage increase ballot question passes, members of the National Federation for Independent would like a teen wage established, according to the group’s Massachusetts State Director Christopher Carlozzi.

“For small businesses, it’s hard to except all these labor costs at once,” Carlozzi said. “This is going to be quite a bit of money for a small business.”

Under federal law, employers are allowed to pay workers under 20 years old any rate above $4.25 an hour for the first 90 days of their employment.

Carlozzi said an increased minimum wage could crowd teen workers out of the market.

But according to Senior Policy Analyst Nicole Rodriguez with Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, studies show the pay raise would have little to no affect on the employment for teens.

The group released a report in December found that teen workers in low-income families help contribute to about 18 percent of their family income.

“If they’re in a position where they’re going to receive lower wages and in turn contribute less to their family incomes, it could really hurt themselves and their families,” Rodriguez said.

Advocates with the coalition, “Raise Up Massachusetts,” believe the legislation shouldn’t discriminate against youth who are saving for college or helping their family make ends meet.

The ballot petition is currently under review by lawmakers who have until May to act on the proposal.