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Minimum wage hike takes effect* Teen workers are primary beneficiaries - Cecil Daily: News

Minimum wage hike takes effect* Teen workers are primary beneficiaries

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Posted: Friday, February 17, 2006 1:00 am

Cecil Countians working for minimum wage received a raise Thursday.

The minimum wage went up at midnight from $5.15 per hour to $6.15. The rate for waiters and waitresses rose from $2.58 to $3.08.

“It’s been long overdue,” said Commissioner Robert Lawson of the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry. “It hasn’t been raised in eight or nine years.”

Lawson said the raise came from legislation in the 2005 Maryland General Assembly session.

“It was vetoed by the governor but was passed this year in a (veto) override,” Lawson said.

Lawson said the impact will not be felt for a while.

“There’s a catch-up period. Some businesses may not be aware, or drag their feet,” he said.

In Lawson’s office they are “gearing up to take complaints” from both employers and employees.

According to Bruce England, executive director of the Susquehanna Workforce Network, there are just 2,900 minimum wage jobs in Cecil County.

“I can’t remember the last time we posted a minimum wage job,” England said. “We just posted a dish-washer job for $9 an hour.”

At $6.15 an hour (before deductions), a full-time employee won’t make much, England said. “The average weekly wage would be $250,” he said.

Those making that kind of wage are largely teenage students with their first jobs, or people in positions requiring minimal skills. It could also be a transitional job.

“It would be an in-between job for some workers,” England said. “The industry with the lowest average weekly wage is the leisure and hospitality industry.”

This segment includes seasonal labor, such as summer camps, and lawn work as well as wait staff.

The average weekly wage in Cecil County is $610, England said. For a federal government employee, the average wage is $1,206.

Danielle DeMuth used to work a minimum wage job. The Elkton woman now is paid more at her job at Subway in the Big Elk Mall. DeMuth said she couldn’t imagine having to survive on a minimum wage paycheck.

“Everything is so expensive these days,” she said. “Gas is almost $3 a gallon and cigarettes are $5 a pack.”

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