Governor LePage Hails Maine's Economy as Best in Decades

October 30, 2018

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531

AUGUSTA--Governor Paul R. LePage has issued the following statement on Maine's economy.

"We've seen repeated accounts in the media and by politicians this election season that Maine's economy is stagnant. It's not," stated Governor LePage. "Mainers are experiencing strong, record-setting economic growth. Maine has a record-high number of employers, a record-high number of private-sector jobs, record-high revenues for the state, record-low unemployment and the fastest net-earnings growth in New England. Our poverty rate has declined to the lowest it's been since 2005, and we have the fewest number of children in poverty in the past 17 years. Maine's economy is the best it has been in decades, and our people are benefitting."

"The gains we are seeing in our economy are bringing prosperity to the Maine people, which was my number one goal as your Governor. Our job and wage growth mean a better financial situation and quality of life for Mainers in the long-term," he continued. "This growth is driving real-time revenue surpluses that should be given back to Mainers in the form of a tax cut. We must do all we can to continue to bring prosperity to our great state."

Maine's current economic condition is a significant achievement given the economic challenges Governor LePage faced when taking office. Maine had lost nearly 25,000 jobs from the 2007 pre-recession peak to the 2010 trough. The losses included the closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station and the accompanying removal of thousands of military and civilian employees and their families between 2008 and 2011. That closure took millions of dollars out of the state's economy at the worst possible time, during and shortly after the 2008 and 2009 recession. The state also experienced a significant loss of jobs in its changing forest-products sector due to mill closures during the recovery. Despite these challenges, Maine's economy rebounded and continues to grow.

Governor LePage cited the following statistics in support of Maine's historic economic growth.

Business and Employment Growth

  • The number of private-sector employer establishments was relatively unchanged for a decade until it started to rise after 2013. Between 2014 and 2017 alone, Maine gained 5,400 employers. Maine has 8,000 more employers than the state had in 2001 ( ): 45,900 in 2006; 46,100 in 2011; 46,100 in 2013; and 51,500 in 2017.
  • Maine gained 35,200 jobs from January 2011 through September 2018. ( )
  • Over the last eight years, the number of manufacturing jobs held stable near 51,000, reversing a three-decade-long downward trend ( ).

Wages, Income and Poverty

  • Wages for the 12 months ending in June 2018 ( ) totaled $27.4 billion, the most on record, and averaged $44,700 per job, the highest on record. In the last four years, average wages increased at the fastest rate in nearly two decades, reflecting the competitive environment for hiring and retention of staff.
  • Last month the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary estimates of state personal income for the second quarter of 2018 along with the comprehensive update of state personal income on a quarterly and annual basis from the first quarter of 1998 to the first quarter of 2018 ( ).
    1. The preliminary estimate of total personal income growth for Maine was 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018, which ranks Maine 25th in the nation for growth and second in New England, following Connecticut. Nationally, personal income increased 4.2 percent on average.
    2. All of the major components of personal income in Maine increased in the second quarter of 2018. Net earnings increased 5.1 percent: the largest increase in New England and higher than the national increase of 4.5 percent. The largest contributor to the overall increase in Maine's personal income was net earnings, contributing 3.0 percentage points of the 4.2 percent increase. Maine's personal income growth ranked 20th in the nation in both 2016 and 2017.
  • In three out of the past four years, Maine's personal income has grown more than 4 percent. Annual growth rates in the most recent years were revised from 3.9 percent to 4.4 percent (2014), 4.0 percent to 4.2 percent (2015), and 3.0 percent to 2.8 percent (2016). The annual growth rate for 2017 was revised up from 2.7 percent to 4.2 percent; improving Maine's ranking nationally from 31st to 20th. Maine's 2017 per-capita personal income was revised up from $45,072 to $46,455. This revision moved Maine from 31st nationally to 30th (passing Michigan) and improved the state's per-capita personal income as a percent of the United States from 89 percent to 90 percent ( ).
  • Average earnings per job in Maine increased 3.2 percent in 2017 to $48,622 (from $47,107 in 2016). This growth rate was third in New England (behind New Hampshire at 3.8% and Massachusetts at 3.6%) and equal to the national average ( ).
  • The 2017 poverty rate in Maine was the lowest back to 2005 for the full population (11.1%), those age 16+ (10.7%), those age 16+ who worked part-time or part-year (13.4%), and those age 16+ who worked full-time, year-round (1.4%). Poverty was close to the lowest in those 13 years for those who did not work during the year (20.5%).
  • From 2001 to 2004, the number of Maine children in poverty (100% FPL) in Maine increased by 39 percent. The number of children in poverty peaked in 2012 at 54,000 during the initial recovery from the recession. In 2017, the number of children in poverty fell to 33,000, a drop of 10,000 children from 2016, 21,000 fewer children from the 2012 peak, and the lowest number since 2001 ( ).
  • Between 2014 and 2017, the number of Maine children in extreme poverty (50% FPL) declined from 23,000 to 14,000, a drop of almost 40 percent, and 4,000 fewer children than the pre-recession number of 18,000 ( ).