Per Maine law, minimum wage increases by $0.60 in 2022

"Hiring" sign from a recent Maine job fair
"Hiring" sign from a recent Maine job fair(WABI)
Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 7:07 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - As of January 1st, Maine’s minimum wage increased from $12.15 to $12.75 an hour.

“Because of demand and the scarcity of employees, most of our members are paying well over that minimum wage, even the new minimum wage,” said Kimberly N. Lindlof, president & CEO of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce.

The increase comes as the result of a Maine law that requires annual adjustments to minimum wage based on the cost of living index for the Northeast Region.

“It’s important to set a minimum wage because you never know when suddenly employers are like, ‘Well, we have enough people applying we can afford to pay lower.’ So that’s good news, but at the same time, it’s still not a living wage,” said Andy O’Brien, communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO.

O’Brien points to an MIT study that shows a livable minimum wage for an adult with no kids is $15 an hour, and more than $21 an hour for two adults with two children.

“There’s a misconception that somehow people who work minimum wage jobs are all teenagers or something, and that’s just not the case,” O’Brien said.

Another change this year: an increase in the salary threshold exempting a worker from overtime pay. It’s up from $36,450 ($700.91/week) in 2021 to $38,251 ($735.59/week) in 2022.

“I think that the overtime thing may have more of an impact, and that gets back to, again, worker shortage and the workforce, people not having enough employees. So that’s probably where it will sting the most if they have to pay overtime to workers that aren’t salaried,” Lindlof said.

“The problem that we’ve been having is that what will happen is people will misclassify workers as managers, or assistant managers, and so you’ll be working in something like retail and you’ll be working like 80 hours a week with no overtime,” O’Brien said.

Both Lindlof and O’Brien agree no one should be living in poverty.

“We want people to be earning a decent wage, and we understand that we all have to play a part in that,” Lindlof said. “So we tried to work with our legislators, legislative delegation, and lawmakers to make that palatable or more palatable for our business community.”

“This is an ongoing fight, and we’re in it for the long term,” said O’Brien.

There’s one other change in 2022. The tipped wage is now up to $6.38 an hour.

If an employee doesn’t receive enough tips to meet the minimum wage of $12.75 at the end of the week, the employer must pay out the difference.

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