By Sen. Kimberley Rosen
I have had the good fortune to serve in the Maine House of Representatives from 2004 to 2012 and now in the State Senate since 2014 and what a difference a few years can make.
Serving in the minority in the legislature during my first several years, I witnessed budget deficits, low wages and economic doldrums that dated back decades. After a couple of years off, I returned to the legislature in 2014 as a state senator, and boy, have things changed for the better.
As a woman, a Republican and a member of the Maine State Senate, I have been fortunate to have had an up-close view of the way the Republican economy of the last few years has improved the lives of all Mainers, especially women.
In various recent statistical reports, Maine ranked first in the United States in the growth of earnings among women-owned businesses and in the growth of wages from 2012 through 2015. According to Forbes magazine in 2019, Maine is second in the nation for women’s access to capital. This is a big reason why Maine has added more than 3,500 new women-owned businesses to our economy.
An August 2019 survey by WalletHub ranked Maine best in the nation for women’s equality in the workplace and politics. Another recent study shows that Maine also ranks first in the United States in employment vitality for women with the smallest gap of any state between men and women in the workforce. Also, the gap between what men and women earn has narrowed significantly so that Maine’s ranking has improved to eighth among states.
Since 2011, Maine’s unemployment rate, including among women, has fallen from 9.2 percent to 2.9 percent and remained there for twice as long as the previous record low. Today, the average Maine worker earns nearly $7,500 more per year than they did just six years ago.
Maine women have more jobs, own more businesses, earn more money, have more access to capital and, by almost every measure, are more secure economically than ever before.
Men and women are not the only Mainers benefiting greatly from our state’s current economic prosperity. The Maine Children’s Alliance’s 2019 Kids Count report says, “The poverty rate for children in Maine in 2017 was 14.2 percent, a steep decline from 2012 when it was 19.8 percent.” And “Maine’s decline in poverty from 2016-17 was the largest in the country. In one year, nearly 6,400 Maine children were lifted out of poverty.”
Having watched from my seat in Augusta as our state’s economy has gone from way down to way up, I have been happy and fortunate to have been a witness to and a part of this remarkable economic turnaround.
Republican Sen. Kimberley Rosen of Hancock County represents State Senate District 8 in the Maine State Senate.