AUGUSTA (AP) – The annual livable wage for a Maine resident with one dependent was nearly $29,000 last year, according to a study released Tuesday by the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

The study is based on estimated costs in different parts of the state for food, housing, telephone, health care, transportation, child care, clothing, personal care and household goods.

Lisa Pohlmann, the center’s associate director, said it is difficult to compare the findings to previous results because of changing methodology for some of the statistics. But she said the income needed to support a livable wage has been growing.

Because of differences in the cost of living, the findings vary in different parts of the state.

The hourly livable wage for a worker with one dependent ranges from $10.84 in Somerset County and $11.06 in Washington County to $15.87 in the Kittery area and $16.32 in the Portland area.

The study found that making ends meet is easier in families with two wage-earners than one, but not always by a large margin.

For example, a York County family with two wage-earners and two dependents would earn a livable wage if both people were paid $10.93 an hour, according to the report.

If the same family had only one wage-earner, wages of $13 an hour would meet the livable wage standard.

The discrepancy is relatively small, the study found, because the family with one wage-earner would save $8,724 annually on child care expenses, and because of savings on work-related clothing costs, transportation expenses and lower taxes.

The study, “Getting By: Maine Livable Wages in 2002,” defines a livable wage as the minimum amount needed to pay for a basic needs budget after taxes.

AP-ES-07-01-03 0226EDT



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