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Lawmakers To Consider Hike In Mass. Minimum Wage

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(Photo credit: Andrea Courtois)

(Photo credit: Andrea Courtois)

BOSTON (AP) — A group representing retailers in Massachusetts hoped to convince lawmakers that raising the minimum wage would hurt many employers and cost jobs, while another group of small business owners planned to argue that increasing wages for the state’s lowest-paid workers would help the state’s economy.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports

The Legislature’s committee on Labor and Workforce Development on Tuesday was scheduled to hear several bills that would increase the minimum wage, which has been at $8 an hour since 2008. One proposal calls for an increase to $11 over three years and tying future hikes to inflation.

“Many Bay State employers simply cannot afford this increase, and neither can our economy if indeed we are collectively serious in stating that our priority in the Commonwealth is to grow jobs,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, in testimony prepared for delivery at the hearing.

Workers, labor leaders and clergy were expected to be among those attending the hearing in support of a minimum wage increase. Several small business owners also said they would testify to the economic benefits of a higher minimum wage, contending it would boost sales by putting more money into the pockets of workers so they can pay for essential needs.

Senate President Therese Murray said in a speech to business leaders in April that she wanted to begin a discussion of what constitutes a living wage. Murray said Monday that she planned to testify at the hearing, but has not yet thrown her support behind any specific proposal.

Massachusetts is one of 19 states that are above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Two New England states, Connecticut ($8.25) and Vermont ($8.60) are currently higher than Massachusetts.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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