The new year brings a $15 minimum wage to Maryland

Under a law signed by Maryland Gov. Wes Moore in April, the state’s minimum wage will go from $13.25 an hour to $15 an hour starting Monday.

The law signed by Moore brings the minimum wage up to $15 an hour two years ahead of schedule and will increase wages for approximately 163,000 employees, according to the Moore administration.

“Any increase means that we have to sharpen our pencils and figure out how we’re going to be better in other areas,” said Gina Schaefer, founder of A Few Cool Hardware Stores, which has locations in Baltimore, Silver Spring and Takoma Park.

“Being able to budget is for everyone, there’s no doubt,” Schaefer said. “Every added expense for a business is an added expense.”

However, Schaefer supports the increase.

“The more money our employees have, the more money there is to spend in the local economy,” Schaefer said. “I think it’s better for all of the local businesses in general when more of our residents have more money to spend.”

Critics have said the law is forcing business to spend more money, especially some hit hard from the pandemic.

Melvin Thompson, who represents the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said laws that increase costs of labor affect the restaurant industry disproportionately, The Associated Press reported.

“Accelerating the phase in of Maryland’s $15 minimum wage will place additional burdens on restaurants and make it harder to fully recover from the pandemic on top of higher food and product prices due to inflation and ongoing supply chain issues,” Thompson said.

Many businesses in Montgomery County have already been paying employees at least $15 an hour.

A county law that went into effect earlier this year required companies with 51 or more employees to pay a minimum wage of $16.70 per hour.

Mid-sized companies, defined as those that employ between 11 and 50 people, had their the minimum wages raised from $14 to $15 per hour.

The minimum wage is currently $17.00 per hour in D.C., and in Virginia it is $12 an hour.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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