THE folks over at the Center for Equitable Growth put together an interactive showing the strength of each state’s minimum wage. From the article:
Minimum wages and labor markets vary tremendously across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ratio of a state’s minimum wage to its median wage measures the strength of its minimum wage, after accounting for each state’s distribution of wages. As our interactive graphic below demonstrates, most states had much stronger minimum wages more than 30 years ago than they do today.
The average minimum-to-median wage ratio for the United States was 51 percent in 1979, the first year of data included in our interactive. At that time, 29 states had ratios exceeding this mark, but by 2013 the minimum-to-median wage ratios were below 51 percent for all states and the District of Columbia. Over the past 34 years, the overall minimum-to-median wage ratio in the United States fell to 39 percent.
The minimum-to-median wage ratio is a measure of how much a given minimum wage will affect a specific state’s labor market. Generally, the higher a state’s minimum-to-median wage ratio, the more workers will be affected by an increase in the minimum wage.
Nationally, the minimum wage to median wage ratio is 39%. Maine came in one percentage point above that, 27th overall in the nation.
The usefulness of the measure depends on a few things. For instance, the ratio only tells us the relationship between median and minimum wages; nothing necessarily about whether they are rising or falling. For instance, if the min. wage held constant, and the ratio decreased, that would mean median wages were increasing (presumably a good thing). However, if both fell, with the median wage falling at a faster rate, the ratio would increase, but presumably the decline of both wages is not a good thing. Then there’s the issue of how many workers earn the min. wage and so on.
What the above does show is that an increase in the min. wage would likely impact a larger percentage of the Maine workforce than say Massachusetts, which has a ratio of 32%.