Maine people work longer hours on average than the rest of New England, but our paychecks buy us far less, federal figures show.

Last year, Maine had the longest average work week in the Northeast at 34.3 hours. That put us in the company of southern states such as Florida and New Mexico and Midwestern states including Ohio for long hours on the clock.

Nationally, Maine was in the middle of the pack, ranking 28th. Texans worked the longest weeks, with an average of 36.1 hours, while Montana employees had the shortest weeks at 32.6 hours.

The figures reflect most U.S. employees, but exclude some groups, including farm and temporary workers and sole proprietors.

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But this holiday weekend, inspired by the labor movement, Maine workers’ long hours are not necessarily a cause for celebration. Here, the money we earn for weekend adventures doesn’t go as far as in many other places.

While federal surveys of employers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Mainers work longer hours, our paychecks are estimated to have among the lowest actual purchasing power, according to a Bangor Daily News analysis.

Purchasing power shows the relative value of those wages, accounting for variations in how much goods and services cost in different states.

We used a state-level index from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to adjust average weekly pay, accounting for those variations. We looked at 2014, the latest year for which Bureau of Economic Analysis adjustments are available and another year in which Maine had the longest work week in New England.

The wage totals do not represent take-home pay, as they omit deductions such as unemployment insurance, union dues or retirement plans.

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For purchasing power, Maine ranked 46th, with an adjusted weekly wage of $746.88.

That was the lowest in New England. While Maine’s cost of living is slightly below the national average, our wages are so skimpy that the state remains near the bottom on that measure.

Massachusetts ranked third nationally for purchasing power. Connecticut ranked 10th.

It’s clear Maine works hard. Hope you played hard this Labor Day — you earned it.


Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.