Maine small businesses say minimum wage increase will level the playing field

Maine small businesses say minimum wage increase will level the playing field

Small business owners and other supporters of Question 4, the referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, gathered at Coffee By Design in Portland today to release a new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) explaining how the state’s current, low minimum wage puts Maine small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

“On average, large businesses pay just a little over $10 per hour, while small businesses pay almost $13 per hour. That is a big difference that adds up to over $5,500 per year,” said NELP researcher and policy analyst Yannet Lathrop. “For low-income families, $5,500 is a significant amount of money that could make the difference between paying rent on time, or falling behind and risking eviction. Buying enough food, or going hungry between paychecks. Going to see a doctor when needed, or letting a minor condition get worse until it requires a trip to the emergency room.”

The report is based on an analysis of U.S. Census data for the retail industry—one of Maine’s lowest-wage sectors—which shows that while small and large businesses employ roughly the same number of workers in Maine, small, local businesses pay significantly higher wages.

“I’m grateful for every one of the 45 employees who work in our coffee shops and our roaster, for every farmer who grows our beans and for every customer who walks through our door. We’re all in this together,” said Mary Allen Lindemann, co-owner of Coffee by Design. “Community-based businesses are more likely to reinvest locally and, as this report shows, they show a greater dedication to their employees, including by paying higher wages than the national chains they’re often competing against.”

Lindemann is one of more than 500 Maine small business owners who have publicly endorsed the referendum to raise the minimum wage from $7.50 an hour to $9 in 2017 and then by a dollar a year until it reaches $12 in 2020. After that, it would increase with the cost of living. The sub-minimum wage for service workers who receive tips would also increase gradually to reach the minimum wage.

“Small businesses across Maine support increasing the minimum wage, not just because it will help level the playing field with national chains, or because it will boost our economy by putting more money into the pockets of our customers, but because it’s just the right thing to do,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “There are thousands of Maine seniors who work hard and can’t afford to retire and too many mothers are making poverty wages and struggling to feed their kids. It’s long past time to raise Maine’s minimum wage.”


You might also like


An attempt to derail the minimum wage referendum and a new tax cut for the wealthy

This week on the podcast, Ben Chin and Mike Tipping discuss the recent and upcoming presidential primaries, the attempt by a coalition of business groups to do an end run

small business

Maine small business owners head to Washington to save the ACA

Nine small business owners from across Maine traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with the state’s congressional delegation and request that they vote to preserve the core of

fair wages

Grassroots fundraising surge boosts initiative to raise Maine’s minimum wage

2,282 individual donors have contributed to the Maine People’s Alliance in support of a citizen-initiated referendum to raise Maine’s minimum wage so far, with a Ballot Question Committee quarterly fundraising