Prepared for the Maine Community Action Association
By the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine
Purpose of Report
Poverty in Maine 2010 is intended to (1) present an objective current picture of poverty and economic distress in Maine and trends in indicators over time and (2) document some key programs and benefits aimed at addressing poverty in the state in order to help illuminate potential areas of unmet need. The hope is that the information and analysis presented can be used to help facilitate program planning and policy.
Excerpt from Report Summary
Analysis of data on poverty, income, employment, and receipt of various benefits shows the impact of the recent severe recession in Maine. There have been sharp increases in the use of safety-net benefits such as SNAP and the free and reduced lunch program across all counties. There has been an increase in the proportion of personal income from transfer payments, and a decrease in the proportion from earnings. Unemployment is at its highest rate in many years. In addition, as in previous years Maine continues to have wide regional variation in measures of poverty and economic distress, with highest rates of poverty and unemployment, and highest use of benefits programs, generally in the state’s “rim” counties (Aroostook, Franklin, Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington). As of mid–2010, statistical indicators at the national and state level suggest there is a gradual improvement in the economy. However, because the current recession is so long and so deep in terms of job losses, analysts suggest it may take many years to fully recover. Unemployment and poverty, both lagging indicators, are likely to continue to trend upward or remain at their current elevated levels.
To address the near-term effects of the severe recession and the longer-term effects of persistent poverty and economic insecurity, Federal, state and local efforts are all needed:
• To expand opportunities for jobs with adequate wages;
• To continue to assist lower-income households by providing needed assistance to pay for high-budget items such as child care, health care, housing and energy;
• To increase support for those seeking post-secondary education and job skills training or retraining that will improve their long-term prospects for having higher and more stable incomes; and,
• To provide education and outreach so more eligible people take advantage of benefits to which they are entitled such as child care and nutrition benefits and the EITC.
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