New economic data show Maine families struggling behind the nation

By Ramona du Houx - April 26th, 2014 

Maine workers are seeing some of the smallest growth rates of real personal income in the country, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Maine ranks 49th among states for real personal income growth from 2011 to 2012, slipping backwards from prior years, according to a news report today in the Portland Press Herald.

“Maine families are struggling,” said Speaker of the House Mark Eves of North Berwick. “Meanwhile, our Governor has rejected policies that would make health care more affordable, raise the minimum wage, lower energy costs and help put more money in the pockets of Maine families.”

According to a report from the Maine Economic Policy Center, Maine ranks 49th in the nation for job growth. Long-term unemployment continues to remain a problem and prime aged workers from 25 to 64 continue to have a hard time finding work. There are nearly 100,000 Mainers who want more work but can’t find it or have stopped looking for work.

“Under Governor Lepage, Maine has let too many opportunities for job growth slip away,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future. “The data underscore just how much our state needs targeted investment to grow the economy and boost the creation of 21st century jobs. We have the opportunity to do this with a bipartisan bonds plan. We need the governor to get on board with it.”

The Legislature gave overwhelming approval to a $50 million six-part bond plan that would promote job creation by small businesses, grow key economic sectors where Maine has a competitive advantage and invest in clean water infrastructure.

Maine has only recovered approximately half of the jobs lost as a result of the recession. New England as a whole has recovered all of the jobs and added more beyond those lost in the recession. The nation has recovered 95 percent.

“Governor LePage touts his business savvy and describes himself as a turnaround specialist who knows how to grow an economy,” said Assistant House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe. “But this latest report is especially troubling for young families like my own. It shows that Maine’s CEO is due for a performance report and that working families need a leader who can actually move our economy forward.”

New England States with Democratic Governors have seen a steep decline in the unemployment rate. New Hampshire has an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent and Vermont at 3.4 percent.