Here’s another sign of Maine’s slow economic recovery

For purchasing power, Maine state government hasn’t yet returned to the halcyon days of early 2007.

Neither have many areas of the state’s economy, according to various measures of tax revenue.

Researchers with the Pew Charitable Trusts found Maine was one of 21 states where tax revenue continued to lag the most recent peak, which it hit in 2007, adjusting for inflation.

The analysis comes as state-level tax revenues across all states have surpassed their pre-recession peak. That total “masks how widely recovery has varied across the states,” Pew wrote.

In Maine, it’s one sign of rather slow recovery from the recession. Maine’s GDP lagged the nation and region last year, with an estimated 2 percent drop in manufacturing output putting the biggest drag on Maine’s 0.4 percent growth rate.

But the state also has an important disadvantage when it comes to those measures of productivity, including total income: the population has been stagnant while populations in about every other state except West Virginia have grown.

In 2014, Glenn Mills, chief economist with the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Innovation, told the Bangor Daily News that he’s not surprised by Maine’s relatively slow recovery, given the state’s predictably unfavorable demographics.

The analysis of the first quarter of 2015 put New Hampshire, Montana and Pennsylvania on the list of states where revenue has recovered. Connecticut, Wisconsin and Indiana also returned to the list.

As one portion of that total revenue, sales tax figures show that automobile sales, food sales and smaller retail stores have led the recovery since 2007.

In inflation-adjusted figures, taxable sales in all of those categories have rose steadily since the first quarter of 2007 to the first quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, sales at general merchandise stores — including big box retailers — and taxable purchases by businesses.

Restaurant and lodging also showed a strong resurgence from 2007, while building supply sales were lower the first quarter of that year, despite the quite mild winter in 2016.

Darren Fishell

About 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.