Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

Why Raise the Minimum Wage in Maine?

Low pay is not OK. Maine families work hard and should be able to earn a fair wage. It’s not right that a single mother of two can work full time and still not make ends meet for her family.

Raising the minimum wage is good for our communities, and good for small businesses. The Mainers who would benefit the most from raising the minimum wage are also the people who are more likely to spend that extra money in their communities, improving our local economies.

Poll after poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Mainers support raising the minimum wage. At a time when so many families are struggling to make ends meet, we can't afford to wait.

Low-Wage Workers in Maine Need a Raise

  • Maine’s minimum wage hasn’t increased in six years, even though the cost of living has increased every year. The average CEO makes more in an hour than a low-wage worker in Maine makes in a week. It’s not fair to ask workers to live on poverty wages when folks at the top make so much.
  • More than 6 in 10 minimum wage workers are women, many of them supporting families.
  • The annual take-home pay (after taxes) for a minimum wage worker averages just over $12,000. For a single person, studies show that a “living wage” (enough to pay for necessities and save a little in case of emergency) is $32,967 ($15.85 an hour).
  • Studies show there are not enough living wage jobs to go around; since the recession, too many of the jobs that have been created are part-time, low-wage jobs. Many workers find themselves forced into working minimum wage jobs because there isn’t any alternative.
  • More than half of African-Americans in Maine live in poverty, the highest of any state in the nation. Raising wages for all will help many working Black Americans get out of poverty and have a shot at the American Dream. Literally 50% of Black Mainers would get a raise if this referendum passed.

Boosts Wages and Job Growth

  • Many small business owners already pay their workers significantly above the minimum wage. Many more small business owners want to raise wages, but are forced to compete against big out-of-state box stores who pay poverty wages.

Tipped Wage Workers Can't be Left Behind

  • Currently, there are seven states (Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) that have equal minimum wages for tipped workers.
    • Restaurant industries in these states have not suffered from guaranteeing their servers a fair wage, not even in rural states like Alaska and Montana. In fact, many restaurant owners there prefer paying their servers a decent wage, regardless of tips.
  • Tipped wage workers are overwhelmingly women (over 70%) and are much more likely to experience sexual harassment on the job than other workers because they are dependent on tips from their customers to make ends meet.
  • Even with tips, the average tipped worker in Maine still only makes $8.93 an hour, not nearly enough to support a family

There's Momentum for Action

  • In the last election, four states overwhelmingly passed ballot measures to increase the minimum wage (Alaska, Nebraska, Arkansas and South Dakota—all rural and somewhat politically conservative states).
  • Here in Maine, Portland has passed a local minimum wage increase and Bangor, South Portland, and Augusta are exploring the possibility of raising wages as well.
  • Poll after poll shows that a majority of Mainers—from across political parties—support increasing the minimum wage.
  • National Democrats have proposed legislation to bring the nation-wide minimum wage up to $12 by 2020 and eliminate the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers.

Additional Resources

More information can be found at:

National Employment Law Project

Economic Policy Institute

Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

Maine Department of Labor