December 10, 2018
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Is Maine’s economy getting better? Depends on what you measure

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Gylfi Mar Geirsson of Eimskip talks about his company's plans for shipping in and out of Portland's International Marine Terminal in this March 2013 file photo.

PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Development Foundation’s annual economic scorecard found Maine improved in areas such as exporting and job growth, and it fell behind in educational achievement and the earnings gap between men and women.

As with previous reports, the group’s 2016 measures note ups and downs for the state’s economy and environment, assessed against goals the foundation characterizes as “both aspirational and potentially attainable.” Those goals are either in relation to other regions or Maine’s past performance.

The report, released Tuesday, gave Maine high marks for an improved cost of doing business, air quality and water quality, compared to other states, using a variety of different metrics.

Using Moody’s Analytics Cost of Doing Business Index, the report found Maine scored better than all other states in the region, except Rhode Island, dropping from the second-highest nationally in 2000 to the ninth-highest in 2013. All New England states scored higher than the national average.

The Moody’s analysis put Maine’s labor costs as eighth in the nation, its energy costs at 11th and tax burden at fifth.

The report also tracks progress along various benchmarks, showing whether a given metric improved, stayed flat or got worse for the most recent period. Those scores are separate from areas for which the report assigned flags of concern or stars of excellence.

The latest report noted changes in progress from the previous year in six categories.

The report showed Maine exports grew faster than the national rate last year and employment rose while eighth grade math proficiency fell, the cost of doing business stayed flat after improving in last year’s report and more people were estimated not to have a reliable access to healthful foods.

The report also found air quality declined from 2014, with more moderate air quality days and two days where the EPA found the air was potentially harmful to sensitive groups.

The report also found that the gap in earnings between men and women widened after improving from 2009 to 2012, with women earning 79 cents to every dollar earned by a man in 2014. That was down from 83 cents on the dollar in 2012.

The Maine Development Foundation and Maine Economic Growth Council issue the annual report. Both organizations were created by the Legislature to study and develop long-term economic growth plans for the state.

Read the full report below.


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