Mainers are paying less for energy and way more for health care

Mainers continued to pay less for gasoline and other energy last year as spending on health care continued to climb, according to the latest federal figures.

The sudden drop in gasoline and energy spending by Maine households follows the global drop in oil prices and is in line with the rest of the country, where spending in that category dropped by about 24 percent in 2015, compared with 2014.

Compared with other states, however, Maine was still among the highest for per capita spending on gasoline and other energy in 2015, behind Wyoming and South Dakota.

In the past year, spending on food service and accommodations was the fastest-growing in Maine, matched by transportation services. But since 2000, health care has been the most consistently rising cost, based on the figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Those figures are not adjusted for inflation.

Overall, the BEA estimates that household spending in Maine grew at one of the slowest paces among all the states, at about 2 percent in 2015, also the slowest rate in New England.

The national rate was 3.6 percent and household spending across New England grew at about 3.2 percent.

That overall growth rate for household spending in Maine is likely impacted by the state’s stagnant population, but the per-capita figures appear to show signs of economic recovery.

Spending on automobiles and parts have steadily picked up since the pit of the recession, a trend that could be helped by much lower gasoline prices. Those lower prices appear to have influenced the types of cars people buy, boosting sales of larger vehicles like SUVs and trucks.

The estimates represent about $55.2 billion in Maine spending for 2015 and $12.3 trillion nationally.

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.