May 23, 2019
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What caused Maine incomes to rise in 2015?

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Dale Sparrow unloads fish from the Isabella-Ava on Jan. 18, 2015, at the Portland Fish Exchange in Portland

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine residents drew down a collective $1.1 billion more in earnings last year, despite the state’s population remaining basically flat.

The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis don’t necessarily mean everyone’s pockets got fatter in 2015 but instead that Maine as a whole reaped higher collective earnings and income, particularly in the health care sector.

The state closed the year with a third consecutive quarter of growth in personal income, a broader category of income that includes earnings, government assistance and dividends, interest and rent.

Not adjusted for inflation, Maine’s personal income rose by about 3.2 percent in 2015. That was the 37th fastest rate across the states and Washington, D.C.

The increase in personal income for a stagnant population raised Maine’s personal income per capita to $42,077, which was lower than the national average of $47,669.

Earnings in Maine grew more slowly than the national average, at about 3.1 percent compared with 4.2 percent nationally. Maine’s earnings growth did outpace fellow New England states Connecticut and Vermont. Across all states, growth in earnings last year ranged from 2.8 percent in North Dakota, reeling from a sharp drop in crude oil prices, and 6.5 percent in California.

In Maine, health care and social assistance made up $157 million of the about $1.1 billion rise in earnings; accommodation and food services, and forestry and fishing were the next highest, with earnings up $75 million and $71 million, respectively.

Forestry and fishing was the state’s fastest growing sector for earnings last year, growing earnings at a rate of about 16 percent, ahead of the national average of 13.5 percent. Earnings from farming dropped the sharpest of all industries, at a rate of about 4 percent, but performed much better than the national average, which fell 22 percent.

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