They came with placards, matching T-shirts, and personal stories of hardship in an effort to sway Beacon Hill lawmakers into giving minimum-wage earners a pay increase.

Opponents also came, armed with employment data, shrinking teen jobs numbers, and an impassioned plea to lawmakers to go easy on Massachusetts businesses.

In a show that the minimum wage debate is building up steam in the Bay State, lawmakers held their first public hearing on the matter Tuesday, drawing impassioned testimony from activists, government officials, and businesses.

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