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Fine Print Makes Minimum Wage Increase More Palatable In Ocean City

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Don't forget to tip your servers — the minimum wage hike doesn't apply to them.
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Don't forget to tip your servers — the minimum wage hike doesn't apply to them.

Many coastal businesses in Maryland are breathing a little easier now that the state senate passed a measure that will phase in an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 over the next four years.

Millions of people who make minimum wage and struggle to stay above the poverty line celebrated when President Barack Obama stood in front of the nation in January and said this: "So join the rest of the country. Say yes, give America a raise.”

At the time, many small business owners started crunching the numbers and were not liking the results. Ocean City restaurant owner Doug Buxbaum was one of them.

“You are looking at your payroll increasing by 25-50 percent," he says.

Seasonal business owners like Buxbaum were terrified that an immediate hike from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour would cripple their bottom lines. They also worried that if folks on the lower end of the pay pyramid got raises, the people higher up, such as his chef, would expect one too.

So he says the business owners in Ocean City were likely asking themselves the same questions.

“Do you hire more staff, do you hire less staff, are you going to be more dependant on your foreign employees for the season?” Buxbaum says.

The restaurant industry in Maryland lobbied hard against the President’s initiative and the state bill. When the dust settled, not only was the increase phased in over the next four years starting in January, but tipped employees will also have their wages frozen at the current level. So if you make tips in Maryland, $3.63 an hour is all you will continue to get.

In addition, amusement park workers only have to be paid 85 percent of the minimum wage, and restaurants and bars that earn less than $400,000 annually will be exempt.

So what the large print giveth with the headline of “Marylanders get a raise,” the small print taketh away when you really look at whom will be getting one and when.

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