AUBURN, Maine - A new report authored by the national group Alliance for a Just Society finds that Mainers earning the minimum wage of $7.50 an hour are increasingly falling behind when it comes to paying for food, housing, utilities and household expenses. Their problems are compounded when they take out loans to cover the cost of college.
That's the case for Cherie Ann Parris, a Bates College graduate who earns $11 an hour as an administrative assistant at a Lewiston hospital. Parris says she doesn't make enough to cover her weekly rent at a local boarding house.
"You know, just kind of scraping by," she says. "And everyone else in the house is scraping by. And it puts you in that environment - a really depressing environment - to know that everyone here is struggling and there's no way we can help each other."
Originally from Barbados, Parris says she occasionally asks her mother for help, but she's been forced to skip meals and postpone payments for repair of her car.
The report finds that a so-called "living wage" for a single adult with no children working full-time in Maine is $15.82 an hour. Two adults, both working and with two children, would have to earn $19.49 an hour to make ends meet.