BANGOR, Maine — City Councilor Joe Baldacci called on advocates Thursday to make his case for raising the minimum wage in Bangor, saying a local ordinance would benefit the city and put pressure on the state government to enact a statewide increase.

“The people who work at minimum wage or near minimum wage, they are not asking for a handout,” he said. “There’s not a better issue that says that we want to reward work over welfare than raising the minimum wage.”

With about 100 in attendance at Abraham Lincoln School, Baldacci introduced members of a panel that spoke on the benefits of raising the minimum wage.

Speakers included Danato Tramuto, founder and CEO of Physicians Interactive, Jim Wellehan, owner of Lamey-Wellahan shoes, Jane Searles of the Maine Center for Women, Work and Community, Christy Daggett of the left-leaning Maine Center for Economic Policy, and former Democratic Gov. John Baldacci, brother to the Bangor councilor.

They argued that companies that pay the minimum wage ask their communities to make up the difference in the form of welfare and that raising the minimum wage would result in economic benefits as well as improve public health.

They also said that most of the economic recovery since the recession has benefited the highest wage earners.

“The problem with the economy both at the state and the national level is not that American businesses are making insufficient profits,” said Daggett. “It’s that wages have stagnated for the median wage earners since the 1980s, and for the lowest wage earners in Maine they’ve actually fallen behind since 2000.”

Panelist Todd Gabe, an economics professor at the University of Maine who said he was not there to speak on either side, provided analysis of Baldacci’s proposal.

If the wage were increased from $7.50 to $8.25, he said, 7 percent of the 67,720 workers in the Bangor metropolitan statistical area would be affected. At $9 per hour, 12 percent would be affected, and at $9.75 per hour, 18 percent would be affected.

National economic studies are mixed, he said, showing that raising the minimum wage results in higher wages for some and reduced hours and job losses for others, depending on the study and the work sector.

Baldacci proposed in February a local ordinance that would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Bangor, beginning with a bump to $8.25 per hour in 2016, advancing to $9 per hour in 2017 and going to $9.75 in 2018.

After that, the minimum wage would fluctuate with the consumer price index, a measure of inflation.

The forum hosted by Baldacci was not a City Council-sanctioned event, but Councilors Patricia Blanchette, Pauline Civiello, Sean Faircloth, Ben Sprague and Gibran Graham attended. They did not address the audience.

“People are our resource. People need to be valued,” said former Gov. John Baldacci. “That’s our economy and economic development of our future; it’s our people.”

Follow Evan Belanger on Twitter at @evanbelanger.