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Patrick signs minimum wage hike into law

Governor Deval Patrick today signed into law a bill raising the minimum wage from $8 to $11 per hour by 2017, setting Massachusetts on course to have the highest minimum wage of any state in the country.

“Raising the minimum is about bringing a little relief to the working poor, many of whom do jobs we could not live without and who, by the way, will recycle that money right back into the economy,” Patrick said at a signing ceremony at the State House, joined by the Senate president, the House speaker and a number of other state political leaders.

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The law will incrementally raise the state hourly minimum wage by one dollar a year. So it will be $9 on Jan. 1, 2015; $10 at the beginning of 2016 and $11 on Jan. 1, 2017.

Tipped workers will also see their wage floor go up from $2.63 to $3.75 per hour by 2017 under the law. Among other provisions, the law also includes changes to the state’s unemployment insurance system aimed at lowering costs for businesses.

The state wage floor hike comes as the discussion of income inequality and worry about a widening chasm between the rich and everyone else are ascendant in the Democratic Party.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos.
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