Many American workers are overdue for a raise these days. For the 800,000 or so in Massachusetts who make at or close to minimum wage, however, it’s been a full five years since they’ve seen their wages go up. Many higher-paid employees haven’t fared much better, but now that the economy is stabilizing, it’s reasonable to consider raising the state minimum wage.
The minimum wage in Massachusetts has been $8 per hour, or $16,704 annually, since 2008, not even keeping up with inflation. Public initiatives such as food stamps and the earned income tax credit can offset that stagnation to some extent. Still, it’s undeniable that the buying power of the minimum wage has eroded over time. In 1968, the state’s minimum wage was $10.58 in 2012 dollars. Today, it’s 24 percent less.