Massachusetts’ minimum wage is climbing. It currently sits at $13.50 but will be moving again next year. It’s an important step in the right direction, but will it be enough?
Minimum Wage on the Rise
In the blue hills of this great state, those working in minimum wage positions received a 75 cent raise to $13.50 on January 1. It’s the third year in a row that hourly rates bumped up, but it won’t be until 2023 that the state crosses its $15 finish line. It’s a positive step in the right direction, but according to MIT’s wage calculation, one adult with no partner or children needs $17.74 to meet their basic needs. One adult with one child would need $36.88. The numbers don’t always tell the whole story, however.
Service Workers Considered Differently
Interestingly, there is another minimum wage to consider. Service employees currently make $5.55 an hour if they receive over $20 in gratuities a month. However, in fields like the hospitality industry, workers don’t need to worry about the disparity. Instead, employers must ensure their staff receives at least $13.50/hr via an hourly rate and tips.
If employers cannot achieve this, the business must pay staff the difference to bring the hourly rate to the minimum wage in Massachusetts. It’s also important to note there are regulations about handling tips. Gratuities must either be retained by the worker or managed through a valid tip pool as defined by MGL c.149-152A. This wage will also increase on January 1 for the next two years, $6.15 and $6.75, respectively.
Ways to Stretch Your Dollar
Despite the difference between the current hourly wage and your actual living costs, you can always get creative when you’re trying to make ends meet. One of the easiest ways to get started is to track your expenses. While it sounds obvious, you might be surprised to learn that you spent $400 a year on streaming services. Get a free money tracking app like Intuit’s Mint to help you whip those dollars into shape.
If you’re more of a money mover and shaker, a side gig is always an excellent way to bring in some extra bucks. You can sign up with the TaskRabbit app if you want to pick up odd jobs to get you by – think yard work and IKEA furniture assembly. However, if you’re looking for something a little more formal, look no further than remote and adaptable job specialist Flexjobs. Most jobs are geared towards less conventional employment arrangements and might be just what you’re looking for in a secondary hustle.
How to Make a Difference
If you’re not satisfied with what your elected officials are doing on the minimum wage front, there are several ways to get your voice heard. For example, RaiseUp Massachusetts was launched in 2013 after individual coalitions lobbying for better wages banded together. They’ve succeeded in getting new legislation passed like increases in the minimum wage and paid sick time, but the work continues. Contact them if you want to get involved.
Photo by Jessie McCall on Unsplash