Maine ranked second-worst state for making a living

The Associated Press (file)

When Gov. LePage took office in January 2011, he put an "Open for Business" sign at the entrance to the Turnpike in Kittery. 

LEWISTON — For the second year in a row, Maine is ranked second-worst, after Hawaii, in the country for making a living, according to the finance website MoneyRates.com.

Maine also ranked eighth among the 10 worst states in which to retire, according to MoneyRates.  

The rankings, combined with a Gallup poll released in August that suggested Mainers were more pessimistic than other Americans about their standard of living improving, seem to paint a dire picture for the state's future.

But Richard Barrington, senior financial adviser at MoneyRates who compiled the list, said Mainers and New Englanders, in general, tend to enjoy a higher quality of life in cleaner environments and safer communities.

A below-average income, high cost of living and one of the highest tax rates in the nation combined to put Maine near the bottom, according to Barrington's analysis. Hawaii's high cost of living and high tax rate erode its near-average income level to make it the worst state in the country to earn a living, he said.

But even if Maine reduced its tax rate to zero it would still be among the worst 10 states for making a living, Barrington said.

"Taxes are often a focal point for controversy and criticism," Barrington said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But I wouldn't say that's the defining issue that Maine has."

To test that theory, Barrington said he did an experiment and lowered Maine's state tax rate to 5.5 percent, the average state tax rate for the U.S., he said that change only moved Maine down one spot in the rankings. He said reducing the tax rate to nothing made Maine the eighth-worst state in which to make a living.

He said lower incomes, higher cost of living and an unemployment rate that seems to be creeping up again are bigger problems. "Obviously, there are other things going on," Barrington said.

He said an effort to promote the state regionally for its quality of life and relatively low energy and labor costs might be a better way to improve the economy than a strategy that aims only to lower taxes. He noted that business taxes and a more business-friendly regulatory environment were important factors that could help improve Maine's economy.

MoneyRates uses a formula that includes taxes and cost of living to come up with an adjusted average income. Under the formula, Maine's cost of living is about 13 percent higher than the national average, while its average income is well below the national average.

Barrington said the idea behind the list is "not to shame the states where times are tough. Instead, the inspiration for this analysis grew out of the observation that as difficult as the economy has been in recent years, there are significant differences in conditions among the 50 states."

Maine's ranking among the 10 worst states in which to retire is a financial point that has not gone overlooked by Republican Gov. Paul LePage. 

LePage in 2011 proposed legislation that would eliminate state income tax on pensions and other types of retirement income. This year, the Legislature enacted some changes to the tax code, including expanding the amount of retirement income that is exempt from state income taxes from the first $6,000 to the first $10,000.   

In May, LePage received some positive news in Chief Executives' eighth annual survey of CEO opinion of the best and worst states in which to do business. That survey said Maine ranked 32nd, compared to 36th the year before.

LePage heralded the news in a release. " . . . we have started to put Maine back on the road to prosperity. However, more work needs to be done if we want to continue job growth and increase overall income, bringing Maine more in line with the national average.”

The LePage administration has also focused on regulatory reform and has reduced business tax rates. The governor most recently said the state must be more competitive when it comes to the price of electricity, noting that while in-state rates are relatively low on a regional basis, they remain among the most expensive in the nation. 

Barrington warned that the MoneyRates survey should be kept in perspective. Barring any major, unforeseeable changes in either cost of living or income, Maine is likely to remain on the list of the worst places to make a living, he said.

Some of that is simply Maine being a state that's part of the nation's "geographical extremities," he said. "But it's important to remember this survey is focused on the best and worst states to make a living and not necessarily the best and worst states to live in."

Vermont, Mississippi, Montana, Rhode Island, California, West Virginia, South Carolina and South Dakota also made the list of worst states in which to make a living.

Virginia, Washington, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Michigan, Wyoming, Utah, Delaware and Massachusetts were the best 10 for earning a living.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Republican questions Lepage

Unlike Dill, King and the ex-speaker, at least Paul Lepage is from the State of Maine.

But, I, too, was born in Lewiston. That, as Paul is proving every suffering day, does not a Governor make.

As a republican, Paul Lepage represents almost everything that is reprehensible in a politician ...

obviousness. And, yet, we have this freak show .... this "Governor"!

It seems people here just don't take our system of representative government seriously enough ...and it's been lost, as we wake up from our hibernation to discover, to a maroon ... who's intentions blare at us even before they apparently come into his own "republican boot kissing" mind.

Get real people. Lepage didn't fail us with this "second to the last" economic result.

It was a set up from the beginning. He was set up by his handlers and, ultimately, those who, for whatever reason, voted for him. By this, I mean, "You" ... the 30 or so percent who voted for him during the last election.

This guy is, literally, destructive and stupid, and never even had a political mandate. The truth, as everyone should know, is that more people actually voted "against" him during the "mid-term" tea-party election. He was rejected. He got in by default and his rejection by the majority of Maine voters was for now, blaringly "obvious" reasons. He has proven our majority right!

Having pointed this out, I implore fellow republicans not to make the same mistake at the national level, too. As, I firmly believe, that It would be even worse to vote for a Mitt Romney in this or any other election.

Mitt is not George Romney, his father who, at one point, relied on welfare to provide for his family. Like Lepage, but far worse, Mitt is bankrolled by foreigners (not the Irving's, McCains or Hollywood slot types), but the real foreigners ... the Chinese companies he's invested in, his Cayman, Swiss and off-shore account buddies, his cult buddies and any one who is mostly white and is as racist as he is .... and he is relying their and your vote to get elected! People he will care nothing for the day after the election.

Please, don't prove him right.

I'm sure not going to help him. This time, I'm voting to re-elect the President. He has, with style and effective consistency, proven to more and more of us republicans that he deserves to be re-elected, that he can take a punch from the best of them and shrug it off, and, then, even rise up to protect and honorably represent the very same "white" people who have repeatedly abused him.

I admire him.

I admire him because, like him, some of us know how he must feel. Some of us have been there in our own lives. Some of us know what it is to be hated, scorned , marginalized, neglected and abused for no reason, but for the color of our hair and skin and our Knox Street address....just for being who we are.

Think like a human being and vote accordingly.

Republicans for Obama

Many thanks...

Amedeo Lauria's picture

Hard to undo 30 years of leftist rule in just two years...

but the current administration in Augusta is working on it! God Bless 'em!

Funny how the same folks who are trying to give the failing administration in Washington another four years are trying to hold our Governor accountable after only two years in office. The hypocrisy is breathtaking!

Vote conservative in November; it's for the children!

P.S. I wouldn't live in Delaware, Illiniois, Michigan, and Massachusetts if my life depended on it. Virginia, Washington, Texas, Wyoming and Utah...maybe!

Another cult leader, Jim Jones, seems to speak from the grave...

"Vote conservative in November; it's for the children!"

Now, drink the kool-aid..... And, yes, Mother's help your children...

That's right. Help them drink it all up. They know not what you are asking them to do. Just give it to them.

That's right. Vote for cult leader, Mitt Romney. Drink it up.

Don't ask questions.

Don't peek behind the Great and Powerful Oz's curtain.

Don't pay taxes if you're rich.

Don't report incomes hidden off-shore.

Don't disclose "tithes" to the Mormon church this year (at least, not until after the election when you can file a late tax deduction and get a check from the American treasury... tee hee).

Don't talk about the republican military industrial complex, welfare recipients like General Electric, Boeing, Bechtel, Halliburton and Exxon-Mobile. Only talk about cutting medical supports for veteran's, retirees, women with children and disabled to provide bigger tax exemptions to the rich who don't need or want it.

Just, don't talk about anything and mindlessly vote for the white guy, because nothing scares you more than people who look different, no matter how great a job they've done, especially in comparison to Maine's bumbling "Governor-by-default".

RONALD RIML's picture

So we're really not Here for the Way Life S'pposed to Be???

Steve  Dosh's picture

Maine ranked second-worst state for making a living

† y v m Scott :) 11 am ish 12.11.01 Thursday
Shameless plug --> http://www.wingshawaii.com ( my daughter's business :)
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/s, Steve and ohana
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AL PELLETIER's picture

OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Now that brain storm really spawned industrial growth! Raising the interstate tolls is really going to help too. Ah! taking down a pro-labor mural might put us at third from the bottom. Nope, that didn't help either.

Gail Labelle's picture

We need to compete for business in Maine

I was born here and lived most of my life here in Maine. I currently live in the State of South Carolina for the last 9 years and will be returning to Maine in the Spring. I agree it is very difficult to make a living in Maine....many factors play into this. The long cold winters and springs which is costly not only to homeowners, but also to businesses. The high cost of personal, business and state taxes. The huge loss of military contracts and bases. The cost of higher education and to be honest not enough to train for today's jobs.The inability to attract more business into the state and the ability to not keep employers here. I will be returning to Maine because it is my home as I am retired now . However after watching South Carolina entice Boeing, BMW, Google, Amazon and the list goes on to set up shop here is remarkable. My house taxes went from 3500 a year down to 700.00 a year for a house which was worth more in value here. Maine can attract business, it can lower it taxes and it can start new construction...but you need the incentives to bring this into Maine....hopefully someone will take a trip to other states where the population has grown and new business have sprouted along with good paying jobs and the education to train for those jobs. With new knowledge it can work for Maine too!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

You get what you pay for.......

I don't know why this should come as a surprise to anyone. Earning a livable wage in Maine has been an insult to workers for decades. I have lived in Maine for the better part of thirty years, accept for a very few exceptions, making a living in this state has been a joke.
I remember looking for local work many years ago, what I was offered thirty years ago isn't much less than is offered now. Local employers have known for years, they can get bodies to fill some space, and consider them employees. The problem is, you get what you pay for. I've been fortunate in that I have been able to work most of my working life outside the state, or for corporations based outside the state. Many local folks may be surprised to know, that out side of Maine, they actually pay you for your education and experience. They actually provide very good benefits, stock options and a very good wage if your willing to learn and grow with your position. Maine is one of the only states I know of that will come right out and deny you a job, because your an experienced worker with good references. When you hear what their offering for pay, you find out why. Its companies like this that have high rates of workers comp claims and other costs due to incompetent workers. This in turn raises the workers comp. insurance rates in the state,causing good paying employers from coming to Maine. Something needs to be done to break the cycle........

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

Give Governor Lepage credit

Give Governor Lepage credit for trying. He cannot be expected to undo so many years of damage to Maine's reputation as a poor State to do business in so short a time as he and his Republican legislature have had. Maine needs to revamp its ways before prosperity can return.

Zack Lenhert's picture

Ha... conservatives were

Ha... conservatives were blaming Obama for the state of the economy just MONTHS after he took office.

Sorry we've had Republican leadership for two years now and Maine is trending DOWN according to these rankings (which I agree are suspect)

Mark Wrenn's picture

Thanks Paul!

C'mon Lepage. Is this the best you can do?

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