Over the past two decades a number of careful economic studies have compared states or counties with higher and lower minimum wage rates. Minimum wage increases reduce poverty, and have small or no impacts on overall employment. Some studies have found small price increases, particularly in minimum wage intensive industries. Paying a fair wage to the person who cooks at a restaurant may mean paying a few cents more for a hamburger. It’s worth it.
A minimum wage increase won’t solve all of our economic problems, but it will improve the economic lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Massachusetts, who are among the hardest hit by an economy in which the rewards of growth have flowed overwhelmingly to those at the top.
It will also send a message: In Massachusetts we value hard work and want an economy that rewards everyone who works hard.
Randy Albelda is professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Noah Berger is president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center.