Throughout the country, most people saw increased earnings this past spring — except for in Maine.
Nationwide, personal income reportedly grew by 5.3%. In Maine, this same figure dropped 2.7%, according to data published in late September by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. BEA).
Personal income is defined by the U.S. BEA as the income that individuals earn from a range of sources, including their wages and salary, government benefits, interest and dividends, and business ownership.
Realized or unrealized capital gains or losses are not included in the U.S. BEA’s personal income estimations.
Between April and June of this year, personal income in Maine totaled $86.962 million, a $604,000 decrease from the first three months of the year.
According to the U.S. BEA’s press release that accompanied these statistics, the primary contributor to the decrease in Maine’s personal income this quarter was a one-time state refundable tax credit that was paid out during the first few months of the year.
Compared to this same time last year, personal income has grown by $3.466 million, or roughly 4.15%.
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. BLS), however, reveals that the Consumer Price Index — a measurement of consumer price inflation — increased by 4.9% nationwide during this same period.
Consequently, the 4.15% increase in Mainers’ personal income actually fell short of covering the rising costs of their daily expenses by .75%.
During the second quarter of this year, other New England states saw personal income gains ranging from 2.7% in Vermont to 5.6% in Massachusetts.
A survey conducted this summer by the University of New Hampshire found that the majority (57%) of Mainers report that they were worse off financially compared to the same time last year.
This same survey showed that 64% of Mainers reported struggling to afford basic necessities either “a lot” (36%) or “somewhat” (28%).
Along these same lines, a study released over the summer by the personal finance website Wallet Hub found that Maine had the 10th worst economy in the United States.
Maine ranked 23rd in terms of annual change in GDP, 43rd for exports per capita, 31st for startup activity, 36th for the percentage of jobs in high-tech industries, 49th in terms of annual median household income, and 44th in relation to the change in nonfarm payrolls.
Harvard University data from 2022 revealed that 41% of Maine tenants struggled to afford their rent, with roughly 20% being “severely cost burdened” by the price of housing.
Unemployment in Maine has been consistently low over the past few months, hovering around 2.5% — something that is generally an indicator of good economic health — but at the same time, Maine’s labor force participation rate has remained well below the national average at 58.6%.
Generally speaking, labor force participation is understood as a measure of how many people who can work are working.
Although there are a number of different ways to calculate the labor force participation rate, Maine arrives at its statistics by considering all individuals over the age of 16 — including retirees and other elderly individuals.
Although this makes it somewhat more complicated to parse the statistics, looking at states with a similar average age reveals that there is likely more to the story in Maine than simply an older-than-average population.
While Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont all have a similar median age, New Hampshire and Vermont had significantly higher rates of labor force participation in August compared to Maine – at 64.8 percent and 64.9 percent respectively.
Click Here to Read the Full Second Quarter Report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis