Wall Street Journal: Maine Has Seen Big Turnaround in its Economy Under LePage


WSJ graph

(Source: Wall Street Journal, based on data provided by Phoenix Marketing International.)

AUGUSTA – The Wall Street Journal on Friday quoted a respected market research group as saying Maine is one of two states that have seen “big turnarounds in their economies.”

The new mood of national commentary regarding the Pine Tree State is a breath of fresh air for a state that has consistently found itself at the bottom of popular state-by-state economic rankings, including Forbes Magazine’s ranking of the best states to do business in.

The WSJ article is based on a new report from Phoenix Marketing International, a market research firm based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. That report ranks all 50 states according to the number of people with more than one million dollars in liquid assets counting themselves as residents.

“Maine and Louisiana are two states that have seen big turnarounds in their economies,” said David M. Thompson, managing director at Phoenix, according to the WSJ.

In the latest ranking, Maine has jumped 11 percentage points to 25th in 2013 – one fact among many that LePage campaign advisor Brent Littlefield said shows Maine’s economy is improving.

“To earn a paycheck you need someone who has money to pay you,” said Littlefield. “Having more companies and individuals in Maine who have the means to create jobs is an indicator Maine’s economy is turning around.”

In a phone interview, Thompson said Maine’s rise in the ranking is especially interesting because Maine lies outside of traditional wealth creation centers, such as Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

“To rise in the rankings clearly means [Maine] has done a good job in rebuilding its economy from the downturn of five years ago,” said Thompson. “Your rise is a testament to that.”

Thompson said it is difficult to attribute Maine’s rise in the ranking to any one economic event or public policy. “Unlike North Dakota, where the rise is clearly attributed to the oil boom, with Maine it’s a little harder,” he said.

“Overall, the economic engine seems to have improved,” he said.

The story appeared on the front page of WSJ’s Friday edition along with a graph showing Maine’s rising economic standing compared with other states. According to the data included with the story, Maine has 560,006 households and 26,276 held more than one million dollars in investable assets in 2013. The data does not include real estate assets.

In a press release to media, Littlefield noted that similar news about Maine’s economy has been reported by CNBC and other business commentators around the country, including a Business Insider report that said Maine is one of the states where the economy is “booming.”

The LePage campaign also pointed to recent labor statistics showing “more than 13,000 new, private sector jobs have been created within the state.”

Maine now has its lowest unemployment rate since 2008, according to data available at the Maine Department of Labor.

“Governor LePage’s economic reforms are creating jobs and boosting Maine’s economy,” said Littlefield. Those reforms include cutting red tape, creating new business advisors to expedite business permits, holding summits with small business leaders and reducing taxes, he said.

The upper end of Phoenix’s rankings haven’t seen much change. Maryland ranked first for the third year in a row, with 7.7 percent of households holding more than $1 million in assets.

Thompson said the report is good news for everyone in Maine, not just millionaires. “In  general, it should be important to everyone to have more prosperous households,” he said. “Ultimately, the strength of the economy has an impact on everyone.”

Steve Robinson
Editor, Maine Wire

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.

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