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September 22, 2008
Augusta- Minimum wage earners will receive a raise in their hourly pay on Oct. 1, when the state minimum wage increases a quarter from $7 to $7.25 per hour. This is the first in a two-step increase that will lift the minimum wage rate to $7.50 per hour in October 2009.
This is the third minimum wage increase signed into law by Governor John E. Baldacci.
“Maine men and women should be able to earn a living wage so they can support their families,” said Baldacci. “There is no better safety net than a good job with benefits and training. We should reward work, and a higher minimum wage does that.”
“Here in Maine and across the country, workers have faced higher fuel, housing, and health care costs,” said Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “By increasing the minimum wage, we are taking a small step in providing our lowest paid workers with a greater ability to support themselves and their families.”
The bill also removes minimum wage and overtime exemptions for public-supported nonprofit organizations and overtime exemptions for restaurants, hotels and motels.
Approximately 26,000 Maine workers have earnings at or below the minimum wage. Although a segment of minimum wage earners are teens employed at their first jobs, the majority of individuals making at or below the minimum wage are adult workers. According to national numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor, 74 percent of workers earning at or below the minimum wage are older than the age of 19, and 24 percent work full-time or more.
Certain employers are exempt from paying the minimum wage. Tipped employees may be paid one-half the regular minimum wage provided the employer makes up the difference if tips plus the hourly wage do not average at least the minimum wage.
Maine law requires employers to display the minimum wage poster. An updated version of the Maine Minimum Wage Poster is available at no cost on the Maine Department of Labor website at: www.maine.gov/labor/posters.
The minimum wage rates for the New England States are: NH-$7.25; MA-$8.00; VT-$7.68; CT-$7.65; and RI-$7.40.
For more information about Maine’s wage and hour laws, contact the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7900 (TTY: 800-794-1110).