During Monday’s hearing before the legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee, proponents of Maine’s minimum wage law pointed to economic data showing how the state has fared overall since the 2016 ballot initiative and slammed the Republicans for attempting to create a “two-tiered system” that would divide the state’s workers.
“Cutting the minimum wage for these young people would have serious impacts on their families’ wellbeing,” said James Myall, a policy analyst with the Maine Center for Economic Policy. According to MECEP’s assessment of state labor numbers, one in five working Mainers under the age of 18 lives at or near the poverty line. Further, young people growing up in poverty are often critical sources of income in their families, on average contributing up to 12.7 percent of their household income, according to one study.
MECEP found that the increased wage has coincided with growth in jobs and wages in the state, and a sharp drop in the number of Maine children living in poverty — including in 2017 a 10-percent increase in household income observed among the bottom 25 percent of Maine workers, and 10,000 Maine children being lifted out of poverty.