SmartAsset recently published its 2022 Cost of Living Calculator which charts the average cost of living and per capita income of every county in the United States.
The calculator lets readers compare the cost of living in their county to any other county in the nation by tax rate, housing costs, and food costs.
Using data from Bureau of Economic Analysis, MIT Living Wage Study, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the site developed a Purchasing Power Index (PPI), shown as a percentage of average per capita income left over after accounting for cost of living. Some interesting bits of information stick out when considering how Maine stacks up with its neighbor, New Hampshire.
Overall, Granite Staters’ paychecks go 46% further than Mainers’.
Cumberland County is the clearest outlier in Maine, with the average resident’s purchasing power 16% greater than the state average, the highest in the state. Yet, eight New Hampshire counties have a higher PPI.
Only Strafford county, home to Rochester and Dover, falls below the Maine state average. It is the only county in NH where PPI is lower than 70% of the state average PPI.
Due to its vast, rural nature, Maine’s counties span a broader range of PPI than New Hampshire’s. Highlighting clear in-state economic disparities for the western and northern counties of Somerset, Piscataquis, Franklin, and Oxford. In each of those counties PPI is less than 60% of the statewide average.
As Maine’s legislature heads back into session for the start of Gov. Janet Mills’ second term in office, it may behoove lawmakers to consider what our neighbor is doing differently that enables NH residents to enjoy this much higher purchasing power.