Grossman Calls For Increase In Massachusetts Minimum Wage
Says High Wages he Paid as CEO of Small Business Led to Stable Workforce, Higher Profits
In a letter to the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Treasurer Steven Grossman today expressed support for legislation to increase the state’s $8.00 per hour minimum wage.
“If Charles Dickens was alive today he would write “A Tale of Two Commonwealths” – one about prosperous, thriving communities filled with low unemployment, state of the art schools and modern transportation infrastructure, and another about Gateway Cities suffering from too few jobs and teachers, along with too little hope and dignity,” wrote Grossman. “In government, the most vulnerable citizens are our responsibility. We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”
Massachusetts’ minimum wage was set at $8.00 per hour in 2008. Since that time, the estimated 94,000 workers in the state paid the minimum wage saw inflation erode their buying power to $7.41 per hour, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center. Notably, this was during the “Great Recession” when the inflation rate was low, so the acceleration of the economic recovery will likely erode that buying power at a faster rate in the coming months and years.
Grossman pointed to the challenges the present minimum wage poses to families, noting, “assuming that minimum wage workers are employed for a full 40-hour week – and few are – their annual income would be $16,640, which is barely 70% of the $23,550 the federal government sets as the poverty level for a family of four.”
The Treasurer also referenced the competitive wages he paid his employees during his 35 years as a small business owner, saying, “we paid high wages compared with most of our competitors. However, we were more than amply repaid by the quality, service, value, and professionalism we could deliver to our customers precisely because we had a loyal, dedicated, and experienced workforce.”
Grossman said he supports efforts to phase in the increase to the minimum wage over three years to minimize the impact on businesses, particularly as the economy is still recovering from recession.
A copy of the Treasurer’s letter is attached to this email.