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Mass. lawmakers weigh hike in minimum wage

Jay Lindsay, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Advocates for a higher minimum wage in Massachusetts packed a Statehouse hearing, saying increasing the wage is a matter of fairness and economic justice.

But representatives of business groups argued Tuesday that the increased labor costs would make Massachusetts less competitive and ultimately hurt the workers it was trying to help.

The hearing before a legislative committee focused on a bill to increase the minimum hourly wage from $8 to $11 by July 2015.

It would also tie increases in the minimum wage to inflation, starting in 2016.

Advocates said it's wrong that fulltime employees earning minimum wage don't earn above the poverty level. They said raising the wage would be a boon to consumer spending and job growth.

But business groups said the increase would raise prices and decrease employment, particularly for teens.