Mass. Lawmakers Take First Big Step Towards A $15 Minimum Wage

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Massachusetts lawmakers and residents met to discuss whether to enact a $15 minimum wage Tuesday.

The current state minimum wage is $9 an hour. It is expected to increase gradually to $11 by 2017. Some lawmakers, however, say the state should instead look towards enacting a $15 minimum wage. At the moment the $15 minimum wage has only been passed on the city level. Some states like New York and Florida have been considering it.

Massachusetts lawmakers will first hear from state residents, reports the local affiliate of NBC. The meeting will serve has an opportunity for supporters and critics to voice their views. It will also allow lawmakers to better gauge what state residents are thinking.

Currently the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Seattle led the way in passing the $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Each local ordinance phased in the new wage over the course of several years. No state has enacted such a high minimum wage.

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced Sept. 10 his plan for raising the state minimum wage. If enacted, the increase will gradually put New York City to the $15 mark by 2018 and the rest of the state by 2021. Florida also began taking steps July 22 with the introduction of a bill by Democratic lawmakers.

Supporters of the $15 minimum wage often claim it will help the poor and stimulate economic activity. Fight for $15 has been the main advocate behind the push. The union-backed group has utilized rallies and media marketing campaigns in its efforts. Critics, though, say such an increase will actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities.

The benefits or negative outcomes of increasing the minimum wage usually depend on the study. Nevertheless, even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agrees any increase of the minimum wage will likely result in at least some job loss.

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