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Raise minimum wage, economists say

Seventy-five prominent economists, including seven Nobel Prize recipients and several professors at Massachusetts universities, have signed a letter to President Obama and Congress endorsing increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.

The bump would increase a full-time minimum wage worker’s annual pay from about $15,000 today to $21,000, which could help stimulate the slow-growing economy, the economists said.

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The letter, initiated by Lawrence Katz at Harvard University and Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, said the weight of evidence shows increasing the minimum wage has little or no negative effect on companies’ willingness to hire, even in a weak labor market, and the increase could give the economy a small boost, because those workers would be more likely to spend.

Economists who signed the letter include two Nobel laureates from MIT, Peter Diamond and Robert Solow; Harvard’s Lawrence Summers; his uncle, Stanford professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow; Boston College’s Alicia Munnell; UMass Amherst’s Robert Pollin; Harvard professor Claudia Goldin; and Lisa Lynch, dean of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis.

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