How Many Massachusetts Low-Wage Workers Would be Helped by a Higher Minimum Wage?

Data on who would benefit by age, race, industry, family, education, and more

People who work full-time should earn enough to support themselves and their families. Economy-boosting jobs with adequate pay also lift up communities when workers spend their wages in the local economy. Unfortunately, Massachusetts’ minimum wage is nowhere near enough to be a “living wage.” Recent high inflation has further eroded the value of the minimum wage, making it more difficult to afford housing, childcare, and other basics.

What would be the impact if the wage floor was lifted to $20 an hour with a tipped wage increase to $12 an hour? How many people would receive a raise, what are the characteristics of these workers, and how large would their raises be?

Increasing the minimum wage from its current $15 level to $20 today would raise the wages of almost 1 million workers, or 29 percent of all wage earners statewide. That includes nearly 23 percent of all parents earning wages. Only 8 percent of those that would see a raise are teenagers.

Of these workers receiving a raise, 58 percent are women, and 40 percent are people of color. Over 56 percent of those receiving a raise work full-time.

For the average full-time worker receiving a raise, they would see an additional $3,878 in wages for the year.

A majority of workers seeing a raise would be white, though Asian, Black, and Hispanic workers would see somewhat larger raises on average.

Today, workers in Massachusetts who regularly earn tips, like servers and bartenders, are only required to be paid $6.75 an hour as long as employers claim their tips fill the gap between that and the minimum wage. That amount is 45 percent of the full $15 minimum wage. A recent minimum wage proposal would lift the tipped minimum wage to $12 an hour—60 percent of a full $20 minimum wage. Doing so would not address other problems with noncompliance, mistreatment and harassment linked to tipped wages, though it would restore the tipped minimum wage to a level closer to the full minimum wage, providing a raise to an estimated 66,600 tipped workers.

All wages in the table below are presented in 2022 dollars. Figures cited above include both workers who would see a direct raise because their current wage is below $20 an hour as well as workers currently earning slightly above $20 an hour for whom studies suggest employers would continue to pay a wage premium above the minimum to attract and retain these workers. Analysis provided by the Economic Policy Institute Minimum Wage Simulation Model; see Technical Methodology by Dave Cooper, Zane Mokhiber, and Ben Zipperer.

GroupWage-earning workforceCount directly affectedTotal affected directly or indirectlyTotal change in annual wage billAverage change in annual wages (full-time worker)Average change in hourly wages
All workers3,419,000717,200993,400$3,852,716,000$3,878$2.45
Age 20 or older3,286,000640,900912,000$3,519,983,000$3,860$2.31
Age category
Age 16 to 24460,000254,700292,200$1,347,775,000$4,613$3.35
Age 25 to 391,115,000222,100323,400$1,319,675,000$4,080$2.25
Age 40 to 541,035,000124,000198,100$657,225,000$3,318$1.88
Age 55 or older809,000116,400179,700$528,041,000$2,938$1.96
Race / ethnicity
White, non-Hispanic2,495,000413,000593,400$2,088,904,000$3,520$2.37
Black, non-Hispanic234,00078,000104,600$443,192,000$4,236$2.43
Hispanic, any race370,000157,800201,500$942,910,000$4,678$2.67
Asian, non-Hispanic233,00043,00059,400$234,869,000$3,955$2.49
Other race/ethnicity87,00025,30034,400$142,841,000$4,149$2.50
Person of color
Not person of color2,495,000413,000593,400$2,088,904,000$3,520$2.37
Person of color924,000304,100400,000$1,763,812,000$4,410$2.56
Family status
Married parent810,00083,400129,900$449,507,000$3,460$2.03
Single parent243,00083,400110,600$481,719,000$4,356$2.49
Married, no children907,000106,000170,900$526,520,000$3,080$1.88
Unmarried, no children1,458,000444,500582,000$2,394,970,000$4,115$2.70
Usual weekly work hours category
Part time (<20 hours per week)266,000121,600144,800$281,961,000$1,947$3.19
Mid time (20-34 hours)525,000236,900290,600$1,166,890,000$4,015$3.00
Full time (35+ hours)2,628,000358,700557,900$2,403,864,000$4,309$1.97
Educational attainment
Less than high school236,000123,500147,000$689,845,000$4,692$3.09
High school730,000260,600355,300$1,452,830,000$4,089$2.45
Some college, no degree614,000211,200280,700$1,106,944,000$3,944$2.61
Associates degree260,00049,00076,900$250,918,000$3,263$1.99
Bachelors degree or higher1,578,00073,000133,500$352,178,000$2,638$1.67
Major Industry
Agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining11,0004,1005,100$24,828,000$4,887$2.68
Wholesale trade80,00015,00022,400$88,218,000$3,937$2.03
Retail trade361,000148,100185,700$725,429,000$3,906$2.68
Transportation, warehousing, utilities138,00026,10039,900$143,254,000$3,589$1.96
Finance, insurance, real estate244,00016,00026,800$81,879,000$3,054$1.77
Professional, science, management services327,00012,50020,400$59,410,000$2,919$1.78
Administrative, support, waste services117,00037,10050,500$199,292,000$3,943$2.27
Educational services420,00056,00082,300$217,225,000$2,639$2.23
Healthcare, social assistance586,000129,600185,300$658,348,000$3,553$2.11
Arts, entertainment, recreational services61,00021,50027,900$103,987,000$3,724$2.91
Other services126,00045,40058,300$243,617,000$4,177$2.60
Public administration141,0007,50012,000$35,498,000$2,951$1.77
For profit2,495,000598,600817,000$3,316,178,000$4,059$2.51
Tipped occupations
Not tipped3,352,000672,300926,800$3,432,338,000$3,704$2.32
Tipped worker67,00044,80066,600$420,377,000$6,312$4.28
Family income-to-poverty status
In poverty (e.g., <$30,000 for a family of four in 2023)195,000118,900132,200$609,676,000$4,613$3.49
Less than twice poverty level276,000164,800203,000$950,823,000$4,683$2.70


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