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BOSTON – Massachusetts business leaders appear open to “a modest hike in the state’s $8 per hour minimum wage,” but only if the state enacts business-friendly reforms in the unemployment insurance system, The Associated Press reported last week.
The state Senate approved a stand-alone bill last week that would raise the minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2016 and tie future increases to inflation. The House has not yet acted on the measure. Business leaders had warned that a hike in the minimum wage could force employers to trim jobs and price some low-skilled workers out of the labor force.
Christopher Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council, told the AP last week his group would be receptive to a minimum-wage increase that was attached to an overhaul of what he called a “broken unemployment insurance system.” Massachusetts employers face the second-highest payroll taxes, ahead of only Rhode Island.
Anderson told the AP that a survey of his group’s membership showed nearly 80 percent opposed to a stand-alone minimum wage increase. The survey showed that 67 percent would agree to hike the wage to $10 per hour if it was not indexed to inflation and was accompanied by two major changes in the unemployment-insurance system, including a reduction in benefits from 36 weeks to 30 weeks and raising the employment threshold to qualify for benefits to 20 weeks from 15 weeks.
Massachusetts’ minimum wage has gone unchanged since 2008. •