A new study by the progressive Maine Center for Economic Policy suggests that an estimated 10,000 Maine children are no longer living in poverty because of an increase in the state’s minimum wage.
The study used a census survey to come up with the estimate of the effects of raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $9 in 2017. Center analyst James Myall says the data show there was big bump in income for the poorest Mainers.
Myall acknowledges other factors like the improving economy and a greater number of Mainers working also helped move children out of poverty.
“It’s always very difficult to sort of isolate just one factor in particular and say it’s just totally because of the minimum wage increase, but there are a number of things that sort of point to that. Yeah, some of the secondary things could include that the economy did continue to grow in Maine,” he says. “When we dug into the sort of underlying data, what we can see is that the increase in the minimum wage in Maine showed a big increase for wages and income for households toward the bottom end of the income spectrum, so primarily those folks living in poverty or near poverty.”
Myall says the poverty line for a family of four is about $20,000 a year. That means that even with fewer kids living in poverty, there are still a large number living close to the line.