Maine’s minimum wage gets another bump in 2019. This year’s minimum is $11 per hour.
“The challenge is going to be, can the businesses afford to keep up with these wage increases?” says Maine state economist Amanda Rector, speaking on Maine Calling Wednesday.
Rector says it remains to be seen how the higher wages will play out, especially in rural areas, which also have the challenge of attracting a workforce.
“Will they be enough to attract workers to those regions?” she says. “If you know that you can make 11 dollars an hour working in a more rural part of the area, where cost of living is less. Is that enough to entice you there?”
Rector predicts that the new wage, at $11 per hour, may cross a threshold where businesses are required by law to pay workers more than they might voluntarily as part of their business plan; she says many businesses were already prepared to pay $9 and $10 per hour in a bid to attract and retain workers.
Maine’s minimum wage law, approved by voters in 2017, calls for a state minimum of $12 per hour by 2020.