The Economy and Minimum Wage

Our country is in the midst of the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression, and our state has been hit particularly hard. This summer the U.S. Bureau of Economic Statistics reported that Maine was the third slowest economy in the country. Around the U.S. the economy is slowly starting to recover and here in Maine we need to take action to ensure that we do not get left behind.

The solutions to our economic problems require that we build from the middle out, not from the top down, and reinvigorate Maine’s middle class. We need to have quality jobs here in Brunswick to make sure that people are staying here and raising their families.  We need to encourage sustainable economic development in our state and make it easier for our small businesses to grow. We need to create a stable regulatory environment to help businesses plan for the future. We need to ensure development that respects the environment and community values. We also need to lower energy costs, strengthen and repair our infrastructure, and create incentives for businesses to relocate to Maine. We have all of the right ingredients in Maine to move forward, but it will take a bipartisan effort in the Legislature, on which I hope to work diligently if elected.

Equally important, we need to make sure that every employee is getting a livable wage by indexing Maine’s minimum wage to inflation.

The average Mainer making the current minimum wage will only earn around $15,600 a year, which is not a “livable wage”. We need to adjust the minimum wage to an amount that will allow a family to afford basic necessities. Increasing the minimum wage would shift our financial outlook and make Mainers more prosperous. Increasing the minimum wage to a livable wage would help a family break the cycle of poverty and move into the middle class.  Fair pay is also a gender issue, as two thirds of minimum wage earners are women, and women are more likely to be supporting their children and families with their jobs than men in this marketplace.

Some argue that a higher minimum wage would hurt small businesses and result in job losses. Decades of economic research have proven that increasing the minimum wage leads to increased employment and economic growth.

In 1914 Henry Ford announced that he would pay his workers a wage of $5 a day, which was double what line workers were currently earning. Ford wrote that paying high wages was good for business, since low wages make workers feel doubtful about their economic future. This results in an uncertain marketplace and weak growth. However, when wages are high and steady, Ford asserted, business is more secure because workers earn enough to become good customers. They can afford to buy Model Ts.

Economists call this “the virtuous circle of growth”: well-paid workers generating consumer demand that in turn promotes business expansion and hiring. Just as Ford led the way in assembly lines and manufacturing innovations, he was an innovator in economic policy. It is time we learn from the success he enjoyed a century ago. Ford help create America’s middle class, and we need to employ his methods to help bring back the middle class.

We need to raise the minimum wage in a careful manner and make sure that we raise it for all businesses to ensure that they have a level playing field without loopholes and exemptions. Businesses need stability and I would put together a study group with shareholders from all of Maine’s key industries.

Economic sustainability is a huge concern in Brunswick. With the closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station our community has faced incredible changes in our economic outlook, job opportunities, population, and school enrollment and funding. Successful redevelopment of Brunswick Landing is paramount to our community’s future. We need to make sure we have quality jobs, that we are attracting new businesses, supporting our existing industries and small businesses, and that our children have economic opportunities right here in their hometown.

In order to propel Maine and Brunswick forward we need to build from the middle out, not from the top down, and help jumpstart the middle class. Hard working Maine families deserve a livable wage. As your next State Representative I will work to raise the minimum wage and help Maine build a sustainable economic future.

In order to propel Maine and Brunswick forward we need to build from the middle out, not from the top down, and help jumpstart the middle class. Hard working Maine families deserve a livable wage. As your next State Representative I will work to raise the minimum wage and help Maine build a sustainable economic future.