While the Federal Minimum Wage languishes forlornly at base camp, clinging to the feeble figure of $7.25 an hour, the noble Maryland Minimum Wage has been making a steady ascent over the past decade or so and has now reached its targeted peak. From January 1 this year all employers, regardless of the company size, must guarantee their employees an hourly rate of at least $15.

The climb was initiated back in 2019 when the Maryland State Assembly overrode the veto of the then-incumbent Republican governor Larry Hogan and instituted a gradual increase in wages with the intention of reaching the $15 an hour target in 2025. Current Governor Wes Moore signed the Fair Wage Act into law last April and brought the deadline forward a year.

The change is also significant in its stipulation that there are no breaks for smaller employers; in previous years those with smaller workforces were allowed to pay their employees lesser wages. The curious obsession with making waitresses beg for their dinners persists, as they and other tipped employees will still only be assured of $3.63 an hour.