February 15, 2013

Maine critics say raising minimum wage has risks

Many business owners say it will force them to hire fewer workers, hurting those they want to help.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Colleen Callahan, manager of Kamasouptra, a soup shop in Portland's Public Market, prepares rolls for baking on Thursday afternoon. She supports President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. "I think it should be $12 an hour. You can't do anything on minimum wage," Callahan says.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

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Callahan said the increase likely wouldn't hurt Kamasouptra, which has restaurants in Portland's Public Market House and the Maine Mall in South Portland, because many of its workers already earn close to $9 an hour.

The Maine Innkeepers Association said it opposes any increase in the minimum wage because it would cause wage inflation and prompt other workers to demand more, said Greg Dugal, executive director of the association.

Some businesses might have to hire fewer workers or pay overtime to avoid adding to their labor force, said Grotton, with the restaurant association.

There's little proof to support those fears, economists said.

A major study in 1994 by labor economists David Card and Alan Krueger showed that a rise in New Jersey's minimum wage did not reduce employment levels in the fast-food industry. Krueger is now chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Unions voiced support for Obama's proposal.

"A surefire way to rebuild our economy and spur job creation is to put more money in people's pockets by raising and indexing the minimum wage," said Maine AFL-CIO President Don Berry in a prepared statement. "The Maine AFL-CIO applauds this move by the President and fully supports raising the minimum wage and tying it to the cost of living, which will jump start our economy and improve the lives of millions of hard-working women and men."

 

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com

 

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Today's poll: Minimum wage

Do you think the federal minimum wage should be raised from $7.25 to $9 an hour?

Yes

No

View Results