BOSTON (WWLP) – Massachusetts’ minimum wage is to rise from $14.25 to $15 an hour, beginning on January 1st, which has the potential to close a racial wealth gap.

This higher worker wage movement to raise pay scales will impact 27 states within the new year. A change that will reach a wide array of workers like working parents, workers under the age of 20, and those of different races and ethnicities.

MassBudget indicates from the 2017 Economic Policy Institute analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata that 39 percent of all Black/African American workers in Massachusetts and 43 percent of Hispanic/Latinx workers, and 22 percent of White workers are to benefit from the minimum wage increase.

UMass Amherst Gerald Friedman Professor of Economics believes these types of percentages will help economic disparities diminish and allow wealth holdings to become equal. “Raising wages at the bottom will narrow disparities because the minimum wage increase will have minimal effect at the upper-income range, among workers whose salaries are so high that the $15 minimum is irrelevant,” said Friedman. “If you increase the denominator without changing the numerator, the number gets smaller!”

Current earnings disparities in Massachusetts stand as the following, according to the U.S. Department of Labor:

Race or EthnicityNumber of WorkersShare of WorkersAverage Weekly EarningsEarnings per Dollar
White2,704,84673.96%$1,186.41$1.00
Black
274,685
7.51%$849.90$0.72
Native American/American Indian2,1760.06%$882.08$0.74
Asian-Pacific Islander256,4087.01%$1,287.47$1.09
Hispanic/Latino368,95410.09%$783.28$0.66
Multiracial50,0151.37%$980.79$0.83
Massachusetts’s Earnings Disparity Relative to White Workers

Friedman expresses that these current earnings disparities are, however, more a matter of high wages at the top than low wages at the bottom. “Massachusetts has some of the highest-paid professional and technical workers in research, biotech, hospitals, and universities. These are disproportionately white and their high earnings raise the wage and income gap,” said Friedman. “By contrast, black and Hispanic workers [are] still disproportionately employed in manual labor and nonprofessional occupations. Their wages are pulled up a little by the Commonwealth’s prosperity, but not nearly as much as the high wages for professionals and technical workers.”

Now, will Massachusetts’s $15 minimum wage increase close the racial wealth gap? Friedman told 22News that it will help a little. He explains, “by raising wages at the bottom and raising wages for those somewhat above the bottom whose wages generally go up after minimum wage increase to preserve some differential.”