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Between Massachusetts And New Hampshire, Gap In Minimum Wage Tops $6

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Workers earning the minimum wage in four of the six New England states will see a bit more in their paychecks in 2021. But the gap continues to widen between New Hampshire – where the rate hasn't changed in over a decade – and the rest of the region.

On January 1, the minimum wage in Massachusetts will increase 75 cents per hour to $13.50 – the top rate in New England and one of the highest in the country – and it won't stop there. The rate will go up each year until it hits $15 an hour in 2023.

Connecticut is aiming for that same rate, also by 2023. Workers there received an increase to $12 an hour in September, with a jump to $13 an hour scheduled for this coming August.

The minimum wage in Vermont will increase from $10.96 to $11.75 an hour in January.

In Maine, where increases are tied to a cost-of-living measurement, the rate will tick up 15 cents to $12.15 an hour.

There is no change scheduled for Rhode Island in 2021, but the minimum wage there increased to $11.50 in October.

Continuing to lag far behind the rest of the region, New Hampshire's rate will remain at $7.25 an hour. The state follows the federal minimum wage, which has not changed since July 24, 2009.

The New Hampshire legislature tried to raise the rate, passing increases in each of the last two years. Both times, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the measures.

While the increase in Massachusetts will be good for many workers, a business leader in the western part of the state said the timing couldn't be worse for employers.

Nancy Creed, who heads the Springfield Regional Chamber, said employers will have their hands full.

"Not only are they facing the minimum wage increase in January," she said, "but we're also looking at double-digit increases in health insurance. Paid family leave takes effect in January [in Massachusetts]. So you've got a confluence of high costs in addition to the costs associated with the pandemic."

Sam Hudzik contributed.

Copyright 2020 New England Public Media

Before joining New England Public Radio, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education, and politics. Working with correspondent Morley Safer, he reported from locations across the United States as well as from India, Costa Rica, Italy, and Iraq.

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