At the end of the fourth quarter of 2012, the average weekly wage (AWW) of Maine workers was $773. At the time, Maine ranked 45th among states in both AWW and the growth of wages. By the end of 2015, Maine’s AWW was $873. This represents a growth of 13% during that period, a half percent higher than any other state. Maine led the nation in wage growth from 2012 through 2015. This period of growth ended abruptly when Maine passed a law to artificially raise the minimum wage in 2016.
The AWW, is a data point managed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW). It is the best measure of income because it is raw data collected regularly from businesses as part of the Unemployment Insurance Program. Businesses report the total amount paid in wages and the total number of employees. This number is not estimated, interpreted, or the result of any formula or projection. It is a consistent measure, unlike “median household income” in which the makeup of a household can change regularly. For example, in poor economic times, young adults move back into their family home, increasing the household income. In this example, a rise in household income is an indicator of poor economic conditions.