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Minimum Wage

When you work hard in Maine, you should be able to pay the bills, care for your children and family members, and share in the benefits of economic growth. The minimum wage was is intended to do just that: make sure that hardworking Americans can earn enough to support themselves and their families. In 2009, Maine’s minimum wage was increased to $7.50, which is ahead of the federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 but still below other New England states. Only New Hampshire and Rhode Island have lower rates than Maine, while Connecticut has the highest minimum wage rate in New England at $8.25 for 2010.1

 

Minimum-Wage Earners Still Struggle To Make Ends Meet

 

Unfortunately, federal and Maine minimum wage laws have not kept pace with economic reality. In fact, the inflation-adjusted value has dropped by 17 percent from 1968 to 2009.2 At the same time, minimum wage standards have become important to more people … especially women who represent over three-fifths of minimum-wage earners.3 The number of workers earning at or below the minimum wage has risen, with a 60 percent increase between 2008 and 2009.4

 

It's Time To Raise the Wage

 

Maine lawmakers need to raise the state’s minimum wage in order to provide a realistic floor of protection for workers in low-paying jobs. And, indexing the minimum wage to inflation – which means paychecks rise along with the continual spike in costs of goods and services –  is an effective way to keep Maine wages consistent with the cost of living and help protect working women and their families. Not only would raising the minimum wage improve the overall quality of life for many Maine people, it would also strengthen communities by boosting workers’ buying power—an absolute must during this period of economic hardship.

Without indexing to inflation, Maine workers’ paychecks erode over time, and the effectiveness of minimum wage as a way to ensure a minimal standard of living is diminished.

  1. US Department of Labor, “Minimum Wage Laws in the States – January 1, 2010,” p. 7.
  2. Kai Filion, “Fact sheet for 2009 minimum wage increase-Minimum Wage Issue Guide,” EPI, July 20, 2009; p. 2.
  3. US DOL, BLS. “Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers, 2008,” Table 7;  p. 10.
  4. Maine Department of Labor, “History of Federal Minimum Wage Rates Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 1997-2009.

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