MECEP Releases New 2006 Living Wage Estimates For State, Counties, and Metro Areas

Augusta, ME – The Maine Center for Economic Policy today released its 2006 livable wage estimates for Maine on the MECEP website and in a policy brief – “Getting By: Maine Livable Wages in 2006.”  The estimates provide a realistic benchmark for how we look at and address economic security for Maine’s working families.

The idea of basic needs budgets and livable wages has taken root across the U.S.  They are calculated for all 50 states and many communities.  This movement is driven in part by the inadequacy of the current federal measure of poverty and minimum wage.

A basic needs budget is a market-basket analysis that accounts for today’s living expenses, including housing, transportation, child care, health care, and taxes as well as regional variations and family makeup.  Using a basic needs budget a livable wage is estimated by dividing the total expenses by the total hours worked in a year.

For 2006 MECEP calculated the following statewide average livable hourly wages needed to meet the basic needs of 5 different family types in Maine: 

  •     Single ($10.20)
  •     Single with one child ($16.17)
  •     Single with two children ($19.35)
  •     Two parents with one earner with two children ($16.47)
  •     Two parents with two earners with two children ($14.21 each)

Ed Cervone, policy analyst for MECEP said, “These estimates and Department of Labor data show that a large share of the workforce is not making an adequate wage to meets their basic needs.  A single person needs to earn on average 216% of the federal poverty level to meet basic needs.  A single parent with one child must earn 254% of the federal poverty level to meet their basic needs.  More needs to be done to contain rising costs while making the critical investments to our economy that attract employers that pay livable wages.” 

For the complete county by county estimates, metropolitan estimates, methodology, and for the number of workers making below a livable wage see: Issue Brief and the complete tables.