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Raising the Minimum Wage Improves Health, Reverses Poverty

Tuesday, September 19, 2017  
Posted by: Jamie Klufts
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National Association of Social Workers - MA Chapter Testifies In Support Of Raising the Minimum Wage


The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-MA) will testify in support of raising the minimum wage in Massachusetts during The Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development hearing on September 19, 2017, touting the health and anti-poverty benefits of the legislation. NASW-MA is a member of Raise Up Massachusetts, a grassroots coalition leading the fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage in the Commonwealth.


The current minimum wage in Massachusetts is $11 per hour, amounting to only $22,880 a year. These earnings are not enough to cover the cost of groceries, housing, and other basic needs; they are not enough to support a family in Massachusetts. The proposed legislation (H.2365/S.1004) would raise the state’s minimum wage by $1 per year over four years until it is $15 per hour.


NASW-MA’s Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz states: “Raising the minimum wage is not just an economic issue; it is a public health issue impacting all of us. When wages don’t keep pace and families and individuals fall into poverty, there are significant consequences for mental and physical health. Raising the minimum wage is an important step to breaking the cyclical nature of poverty and giving families in every corner of the Commonwealth a fair chance at a decent life. We urge the legislature to act.” 


Research suggests that there are significant mental and physical health benefits when increasing the minimum wage. In 2016 the Boston Public Health Commission conducted a Health Impact Assessment focused on income and health and found that if the minimum wage in Boston was raised to $17 per hour, Boston would see significant and measurable declines in rates of diabetes, persistent sadness, persistent anxiety, and food insecurity and hunger.


As a profession, social workers are committed to serving clients and communities, many of whom are the most vulnerable members of society. NASW-MA believes that Massachusetts is ready to address income inequality head-on by raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and following suit with states like California, New York, Washington, and Arizona who are already taking concrete steps to raise the minimum wage.

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