minimum wage in Maine

Understanding the minimum wage in Maine is essential for all workers, especially those taking their first steps into the workforce or needing an entry-level position. The number helps you compare your needs to what a job offers. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to assess whether the compensation feels fair based on the amount of work involved and the nature of the tasks. If you’re curious about the minimum wage in Maine, here is everything you need to know.

What Is a Minimum Wage?

In the simplest sense, the minimum wage is a dollar amount that represents the lowest per-hour pay rate a company can provide covered nonexempt employees.

Most workers qualify as nonexempt. The only exceptions tend to be specific young workers, full-time students, student learners, disabled workers. However, that all depends on the work arrangements and contracts involved.

Minimum wages come in several forms. First, there is a federal minimum wage, which represents the lowest amount per hour companies have to pay workers.

However, there can also be state, county, and city minimum wages. With these, states and municipalities can require a higher minimum wage in their area, but they aren’t allowed to set a lower per-hour rate than the federal minimum.

If a state or municipality minimum wage law lists a lower dollar amount, the federal minimum wage has to be followed. If the amount is higher, that is the per-hour rate companies are required to pay.

July 2009 was the last time the federal minimum wage was increased. At that time, it set the per-hour minimum at $7.25 per hour and $2.13 an hour for non-tip and tip workers, respectively. With tip workers, if their tips don’t bring their per-hour average up to $7.25 per hour, the company must make up the difference. If the tips are sufficient, the company pays just $2.13 per hour worked.

What Is the Minimum Wage in Maine?

As of January 2021, the minimum wage in Maine is $12.15 per hour for non-tipped workers. For employees that receive tips, the minimum rate is $6.08 per hour. However, their tips do have to bring them to the $12.15 per hour rate. Otherwise, the employer is required to make up that difference.

Portland does have a separate voter-passed initiative. It aims to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. However, there have been some legal challenges. As a result, it isn’t clear if or when changes to the minimum wage in Portland would occur.

Is the Maine Minimum Wage a Living Wage?

Generally speaking, a living wage is a per-hour earnings rate that’s is sufficient to support households of various sizes. Usually, the estimates are for those working full-time, which is classically 40 hours per week or 2,080 hours a year.

For a single adult that doesn’t have children, the living wage in Maine is listed as $14.92 per hour. For two adult households with two children where only one adult is working, the living wage is $32.41 per hour. If both adults in that household work, each adult would need to earn $21.14 per hour to hit the living wage. Based on those metrics, it would seem that the current Maine minimum wage wouldn’t qualify as a living wage.

The only exception is two adult households without children. In that situation, if both adults worked full-time, $11.94 per hour is the living wage. However, for all other household sizes, the minimum wage is insufficient.

The Poverty Wage

If you look at the poverty wage, the picture is a bit different. For single adults with no children, the minimum wage in Maine is above the poverty wage, which is listed at $6.13 per hour for that household type. For households with two working adults and two kids, the minimum wage also exceeds the poverty wage, which is $6.30 per hour.

However, it falls short for households with two adults and two children when only one adult works, where the poverty wage is $12.60 per hour. That means that household would be living below the poverty level if there was only one adult earner making minimum wage.

Do you think the minimum wage in Maine is in the right spot? Do you think it needs to be higher? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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