Mainers working full time should be able to pay their basic monthly bills. Yet 47,000 Maine citizens earn less than $8.50 per hour.

Many minimum wage jobs pay $15,600 a year; $7.50 per hour is not enough for any Maine family to live on.

Indexing the minimum wage ensures that its buying power keeps up with inflation. If the cost of things such as milk, gas, bread and heating oil go up, the minimum wage needs to follow. Currently, an hour of work can buy a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas for one’s car.

Families often stay at home rather than spend $8.50 each for movie tickets for four people. It is the ability to pay rather than a choice that prevents spending on basics, let alone the extras.

Democrats have proposed a bill that will increase Maine’s minimum wage to $8 next July, $8.50 in July of 2015, and $9 in July of 2016. After that, the minimum wage will go up as the cost of living goes up.

Vermont is an example of a state where we see the transition to an indexed minimum wage works well for its citizens. Vermont’s minimum wage of $8.60 an hour is the highest in the region and has been indexed to inflation since 2007. Unemployment is under 5 percent in this Green Mountain State.

Raising the minimum wage will increase the buying power of Mainers, which in turn benefits businesses and allows them to hire more workers. Employees need to earn their fair share of the profits in order to contribute to our collective economic growth.

Colleen P. Crowley

Bowdoinham