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Maine's minimum wage increases this week

A customer checks out at IGA in Cape Elizabeth. Workers statewide making minimum wage will get a raise this week when it increases to $9/hr on January 7 (WGME).

STATEWIDE (WGME) -- Mainers making minimum wage get a raise this week.

After a statewide referendum passed on Election Day, Maine's minimum wage will increse from $7.50 an hour to $9 an hour on Saturday, January 7.

Portland's minimum wage, previously at $10.10 an hour in 2016, increased to $10.68/hr on January 1.

"In order to get good help you have to pay above minimum wage," said CIA Cafe Co-Owner Bill Dunnigan.

Dunnigan, whose coffee and art shop opened nearly four years ago in South Portland, says they now always pay above minimum wage. He says he supports the increase, and calls it a long time coming.

"They should've done this ten years ago and gradually gone up," Dunnigan said. "They failed as a government to do that. How does a business adjust for that amount of money that quickly without aggravating their customers?"

It's a question facing businesses across the state as minimum wage is set to go up a dollar a year until it hits $12 an hour in 2020.

Tipped workers will also get a raise. Statewide it is increasing to $5 an hour on January 7. Then, it will increase a dollar a year until it matches the hourly minimum wage.

"Prices will go up," said Norman Barrett, the IGA store manager in Cape Elizabeth. "You can't put labor up without putting cost of goods up."

Businesses will be required to hang a flier explaining the new minimum wage rules to employees.

The Department of Labor announced it will not enforce parts of Maine's new minimum wage law until January 31 because of proposed changes to tipped workers' pay and a federal overtime rule being overturned in federal court.

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