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Maine minimum wage continues to gradually increase

On January 1, 2019, Maine’s minimum wage increased from $10 an hour to $11 an hour. The change reflects the gradually increasing minimum wage approved by voters in 2016 in a citizen’s referendum, which raised Maine’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 an hour in 2017; $10 an hour in 2018; $11 an hour in 2019; and $12 an hour in 2020. The law provides that after 2020, the minimum wage will be adjusted for cost-of-living increases. For tipped employees, this year will find their wages increased from $5 to $5.50 per hour, and employers will be required to make up the difference when tips don’t exceed the minimum wage.

Thanks in part to these minimum wage hikes, the average personal income for Mainers rose 3.7% from 2016 to 2017, while nationally the average income rose 3.6%. While wages have increased for all Mainers, the lowest-paid workers have seen the greatest gains with nearly a 10% increase in earnings.

The Federal Minimum wage, on the other hand, has fallen when adjusted for inflation. The Federal minimum wage was last raised in 2009, at which point it was set to $7.25 an hour. Although the number stands at $7.25, when adjusted for inflation and the rise in prices of goods over time, $7.25 correlates to about $6.20 in 2009.

Although Maine would not be affected by a marginal increase in the federal minimum wage, New Hampshire would. New Hampshire’s state minimum wage currently matches the federal standard of $7.25, despite recent efforts by New Hampshire legislators to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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