Latest Census Data: Maine’s Economy Remains Stagnant; Children’s Health Coverage Continues to Improve

Maine median income and poverty rates statistically show no sign of improvement; number of children without health care down 31% since 2000
Augusta, Maine (Tuesday, September 17, 2013) New figures released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey reinforce concerns about the health of Maine’s middle class and provide no evidence of relief from hardship for Maine families on the horizon. Inflation-adjusted median household income in the two-year 2011-2012 period was $49,945, indicating that income for the typical Maine household has not grown at all since the end of the recession and remains significantly below the peak of $52,508 in 2006-2007. Meanwhile, Maine’s poverty rate in 2011-2012 was 13.1%, indicating that poverty has remained constant at best since the end of the recession and is significantly higher than poverty rates observed in Maine at the end of the 1990s. On a brighter note, the number of Maine children without health care has fallen from 19,500 to 13,500 since 2000.
“The new census data show that Maine’s middle class families have been treading water economically for more than fifteen years now, and there is no sign of declining poverty rates in the wake of the Great Recession” said Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) economist Joel Johnson. “The data released today provide a good view of longer-term trends, but the Census Bureau will release more detailed data later in the week that can paint a more detailed picture of how Mainers are faring from year to year in this sluggish recovery from the recent recession.”
“Today’s data show a dramatic decline of almost 31 percent in the number of Maine children without health insurance coverage, and these gains were largely due to the success of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), launched in 1998, along with Medicaid, which combined to cover 44,800 more children in the state,” said Ned McCann, Executive Director of the Maine Children’s Alliance, the state’s leading advocate for sound public policies that improve the lives of children, youth, and families. “While today’s data show that Maine has made progress over the last decade in reducing the number of children who live without health insurance, data set for release on Thursday will likely confirm that an unacceptably large number of Maine children- nearly 1 in 4 -live in poverty. We must do more to reduce child poverty by expanding income support and safety net programs for children with families.”
The data released today are useful for analyzing long-term trends in poverty, income and health insurance through 2012. On Thursday (September 19) the Census Bureau will release more extensive and definitive data from its American Community Survey which samples a much larger number of households and allows for analysis of more recent annual changes in poverty, income, and health insurance.