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

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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

15 COMMENTS

  1. Using millionaires per capita is a terrible economic guidepost. For instance, from the piece:

    “Large movements for many states made the latest millionaire rankings unusual. Maine climbed 11 spots over a single year to No. 25 in 2013. Louisiana jumped 10 to No. 32. Meanwhile, Nevada fell 20 spots to No. 39. Arizona, Florida, Idaho and Michigan all fell by more than 10 positions. From 2011 to 2012, no state changed its rank by more than two positions.

    The big swings may suggest economic recovery may have become more uneven last year, said David Thompson, a managing director at Phoenix. “Maine and Louisiana are two states that have seen big turnarounds in their economies,” he said. “In Nevada, the data suggests the state is still feeling the effects of the downturn.””

    But, assuming we want to use millionaires per capita as our guidepost, then we need to strive to be more like the economies in the top 10, including:

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/101338309

    Millionaire households per capita

    State $1M+ Investable Assets Ratio Millionaires to Total Households
    1. Maryland 169,287 7.70%
    2. New Jersey 242,647 7.49%
    3. Connecticut 100,754 7.32%
    4. Hawaii 33,520 7.18%
    5. Alaska 18,209 6.75%
    6. Massachusetts 174,225 6.73%
    7. Virginia 208,187 6.64%
    8. New Hampshire 33,867 6.48%
    9. Delaware 21,679 6.20%
    10. District of Columbia 17,378 6.10%
    Phoenix Marketing International

    (For the record, Maryland ranks 41st in the Tax Foundation’s Business Tax Index Climate http://taxfoundation.org/state-tax-climate/maryland)

  2. Thomas Czyz – Of course they’re “bad politicians”. They don’t lie, cheat and steal like other politicians do. If you continue reading your quoted article, you’ll also read the line that says “Republican governors have gotten results and, as a result, are in a strong political position’. LePage gets results by cutting through the b-s and getting straight to the point. That’s why most all of us will vote for LePage again, and again. You can quote anyone you want, but the stats show the truth.

  3. This info will likely not make any difference to the voters of Maine because it will not get much play in the Sussman media (if any). It is not consistent with the story line–LePage BAD-Michuad-GOOD.

  4. In response to comments from Joel Martin, Jd Blaine, and Ray Bates

    JD Blaine: “LePage gets results by cutting through the b-s and getting straight to the point.”
    Thomas Czyz: What does “get results” mean? Do you have specifics, data?

    Joel Martin: “the fact is that LePage’s leadership is producing welcome results for Mainers.”
    Thomas Czyz: What does “welcome results” mean? Do you have specifics, data?

    Or are you referring to your discussion with Pine Tree Economics? If so I believe the salient portion of that dialogue ended with Pine Tree Economics response to your statement “Maine’s climb in the rankings in 2013 can only mean businesses are generating more income.” with

    “There is absolutely nothing in the report that suggests this is the case. We don’t know the entities with the increased wealth (business owners, retirees, executives, etc.), the means of the increase (increased labor income, stock prices benefiting from QE, real estate holdings, etc.), and lastly–and to your point vis-a-vis capital investments–we have no idea whether this money will be re-invested in businesses or held.”

    PineTreeEconomics provided sound reasoning, not generalities, with supporting data.

    Joel Martin: “I’m not sure what you are getting at. The Huffington Post says some top Democrats believe LePage is “clueless”. Of course this is a political statement.’

    My posting of the Huffington Post story was driven by its usage of the term “clueless”. It raised my curiosity as how would those who strongly support Paul LePage react? The Mainewire immediately came to mind. The Mainewire’s ongoing sensationalist coverage of issues affecting Mainers, most recently the relationship of EBT cards to pole-dancing, clearly demonstrate an organization that understands the value of inflammatory comments intended to pit group A against group B.

    With that said Ray Bates and Joel Martin, based on your previous respective comments, may quickly point out the bias of the Portland Press Herald.

    “This info will likely not make any difference to the voters of Maine because it will not get much play in the Sussman media (if any). It is not consistent with the story line–LePage BAD-Michaud-GOOD.”
    “Yes, I agree, the Sussman liberal media has a monopoly on the “news” in Maine. It’s very much a propaganda arm for the Democrat Party.”

    Are the Portland Press Herald and the Mainewire propaganda arms of the Democratic and Republican parties, or representative of liberal and conservative ideologies, or biased against or towards Paul LePage, or all of the above? The quick answer to each comparison, the one often given when no thought is involved is YES. However, some may say, and I agree, that at their core the Portland Press Herald and the Mainewire are taking a position, having an opinion.

    My issue with Sussman’s ownership of the PPH is the always present, underlying implication that it is in a PPH employee’s best interests to lean towards Sussman’s views. It would be difficult to think otherwise, and it allows the Mainewire to take the position “PPH BAD – Mainewire GOOD”.

    Unfortunately that is the world we live in, where most media is owned in majority by or receive considerable financial support from wealthy individuals and institutions with political agendas. In that regard the Mainewire and The Maine Heritage Foundation are no different than the PPH and Sussman.

    My issues with the Mainewire are its sensationalism and it’s blatant, childlike in your face name-calling, institutional attacks, and unabashed hypocrisy. From the Mainewire website:

    “The Maine Wire is not owned by wealthy leftists like the Portland Press Herald. “
    “The Maine Wire is not supported by tax dollars like Maine Public Broadcasting Network.”
    “The Maine Wire depends on generous contributions from people who are fed up with tax-and-spend politicians and the liberal media that protects them. Please click here to donate to our Transparency Fund and help ensure public records like those seen above remain open and available to the people of Maine. “

    Are the comments above from the Mainewire’s website intended to be inflammatory and to pit various groups against each other? Yes. Does it work? Sometimes. Why does it work? Because some people believe what Maine needs is blunt, candid, in your face actions to fix the state’s problems. As JD Blaine posted “LePage gets results by cutting through the b-s and getting straight to the point.”

    Unfortunately for Maine, the b-s is coming from Paul LePage and unfortunately for Maine he is getting results for a select few. The governor has taken a page from those on the national scene; “starve-the-beast”. The approach is to create or increase existing budget deficits via tax cuts to force future reductions in the size of government. In turn the social programs such as food stamps, social security, and Medicare, and Public Education become targets for reduction; though military spending, prisons, and weapons do not.

    Note the previous tax cuts benefiting primarily the wealthy in Maine and the current emphasis involving EBT cards. The wealthy are happy because they get the benefit of greater tax cuts and most importantly are not affected by cuts in programs the middle-class and poor desperately need. “Starve-the-beast” is not about starving the government; it is about starving the American public in the interest of a small wealthy group. That’s b-s.

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