‘The sky has not fallen’ – Portland thriving after minimum wage increase
A new investigation and series of interviews published in the Christian Science Monitor by reporter Simon Montlake indicates that the minimum wage increase this year in Portland, Maine has helped low-wage workers to make ends meet and hasn’t had the negative effects on businesses predicted by opponents of raising the minimum wage.
“So far, Portland’s $10.10 wage hasn’t killed jobs,” reports the Monitor. “Portland’s economy is booming and unemployment is below 3 percent. Even Greg Dugal, a prominent lobbyist for restaurant and hotel owners, admits that ‘the sky has not fallen.'”
Also included in the article are anecdotal reports of small businesses in Portland seeing more applicants with higher levels of experience, as well as increased pressure on businesses in surrounding communities to also increase their wages.
Several of those quoted in the article also registered their support for the statewide referendum on the ballot this November to increase Maine’s minimum wage to $9 in 2017 and by a dollar a year to $12 by 2020, similar to the schedule of wage increases now in place in Portland.
The most obvious effects of the increase, unsurprisingly, have been felt by those making low wages who have seen their pay go up.
“For Ms. Rogers, who had been making $8.50 at the Big Sky Bread Co., Portland’s new law meant she could eat out more, hang out later, ‘be a person.’ For Ms. White, the step-up from $7.75 to $10.10 went a long way in her household budget. ‘I can pay the bills and have a little extra for me,’ she says,” writes Montlake.
The results in Portland track with those in other cities and states that have increased the minimum wage, including a study just released by the University of Washington of the effects of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law.
Photo of Fore Street, via Corey Templeton.
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