Minimum wage earners in Massachusetts are about to get a pay raise. You may want to save some of the money, though, because the raise could ultimately cost you your job.

Massachusetts is among 20 states that will raise its minimum wage as of January 1. The government mandated minimum will rise to $12 from the current $11, on its way to $15. The increase will give Massachusetts among the highest minimums in the nation. Congratulations! But you may want to hold off on the celebration.

When the government forces businesses to pay a higher minimum wage than what those businesses believe they can afford to pay, and then piles on mandates like paid leave, smart business owners begin to look for ways to reduce their costs—and that almost always comes from labor.

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In the current booming economy, businesses are offering better wages and benefits on their own in order to fill positions, but as we are constantly being reminded, the economy is cyclical and tougher times are waiting just around the corner. Businesses are preparing now.

Since wages are set by the government and cannot be cut by employers, the only way to reduce labor costs is to eliminate positions. That can be done by adding more responsibilities on the backs of existing employees or replacing them with robotics and self-checkout terminals.

All of the hey-heying and ho-hoing in the world won't save low skilled jobs from technology. And just think, you could have paid attention in math class.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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