Testimony at Hearing on LD 1786, An Act to Repeal the Requirement That the Department of Labor Calculate the Livable Wage

MECEP opposes LD 1786. The livable wage is a useful tool for benchmarking Maine’s wages. It provides job seekers, employers, and policymakers useful information to assess the performance of Maine’s economy.

MECEP developed the methodology for calculating Maine’s livable wage in 1999. We did so in response to growing recognition that neither the federal poverty level nor the minimum wage provides a reasonable standard for measuring the economic security for Maine families. From the beginning, our calculation relied on public data sources.

In 2008, the Maine Department of Labor took over responsibility for calculating Maine’s livable wage. To the Department’s credit, they refined and improved the methodology. The Department’s calculations afford a level of geographic and demographic specificity that cannot be found with any other measure. There is significant value in having the Department perform these calculations. It also sends a clear message that Maine values quality jobs.

Because of MECEP’s involvement in calculating Maine’s Livable Wage in the past, I can attest that it has real value. Some years we had groups contact us to let us know that they intentionally indexed their wages to our figures. At MECEP we are committed to paying our employees at least a livable wage. We also found the livable wage calculation extremely useful when assessing the effectiveness of various tax credits and programs that provide assistance with child care and health care toward improving the economic security of Maine people. We become what we measure. MECEP strongly believes the livable wage measurement is too important to the development of public policy beneficial to Maine and its people. 

Garrett Martin, Executive Director, Maine Center for Economic Policy, testifying before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development in opposition of LD 1786.