Maine Musings: March 3 2016

Each year I share with you The Center for American Progress’ release of its “State of the States” report, by Rachel West and Jackie Odum.

Here is what is contained in the Executive Summary:

Poverty and Opportunity in the States: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly evaluates progress toward cutting poverty and increasing opportunity by tracking 15 key indicators in each state. These indicators can help state policymakers better understand the areas in which states are improving the situation of struggling families, as well as the areas in which they must do more to promote families’ well-being. The report ranks states according to how successfully they are reducing poverty and inequality, improving the quality of jobs and education, promoting family stability and strength, and ensuring family economic security.

As this report underscores, policy matters when it comes to addressing poverty and improving economic opportunity. State policymakers have a host of tools at their disposal to bring about change that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of American families.

This year’s report highlights examples of commendable and innovative steps that states have recently taken to support and strengthen families. Even as national progress has been stalled by a gridlocked Congress, many states have forged ahead—raising wages for low-paid workers, creating family-friendly work environments through paid leave policies, reducing barriers to employment and public assistance for families involved in the justice system, and connecting youth to high-quality work opportunities through apprenticeships, to name just a few examples.

But while policy can vastly improve lives, policy decisions can also shut the doors of opportunity or reverse families’ hard-earned gains altogether. In addition to commending states’ strides to combat poverty and to promote opportunity, this report also shines a light on recent actions by policymakers that may hinder or harm already-struggling families in their states.

Developments in the states over the past year—the good, the bad, and the ugly—demonstrate how far-reaching and consequential state-level policymaking can be. By taking a hard look at where their state is succeeding and where it is falling short, advocates, lawmakers, and residents can prioritize future action that would dramatically reduce poverty and increase well-being in their backyard and beyond.

Also be sure to check out this great – Interactive: Restoring Shared Prosperityfrom our friends at TalkPoverty.org.

Mainely Kids

Here’s the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Maine.

Population of Maine in 2014: 1,294,009
Number of people in Maine living in Poverty 2014: 182,791

In 2014, the official poverty rate in the United States was 14.8 percent. That means that more than one in seven people, or 46.7 million Americans, lived below the official federal poverty level—about $24,000 per year for a family of four in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In Maine, the poverty rate was 14.1 percent, ranking it 22 among states in the country.

Each year, the Center for American Progress track states’ progress toward the goals of cutting poverty and increasing opportunity by publishing their annual “State of the States” report, which examines a broad range of indicators of economic security and opportunity. These indicators help us better understand the areas in which the situation is improving for America’s struggling families—and those in which Maine must do more work to boost families’ well-being.

The following is a summary of where Maine ranks according to the indicators in the 2015 report.

Where Maine is doing Best:
Rank in Teen Birth Rate: 7
Rank in High School Graduation Rate: 10
Rank in Disconnected Youth: 11

Where Maine is doing Worst:
Rank in Hunger and Food Insecurity: 40
Rank in Children Living Apart from Parents: 33
Rank in Savings and Assets: 33

Rank Poverty and Inequality
22 Poverty Rate: 14.1 percent of people in Maine had incomes below the poverty line – about $24,000 for a family of 4 – in 2014.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014, Table B17001.

24 Child Poverty Rate: 18.7 percent of children under age 18 in related families in Maine had incomes below the poverty line in 2014.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014, Table B17006.

22 Income Inequality: The share of income going to the top 20 percent of households in Maine was 14.2 times that going to the bottom 20 percent of households in 2014.

Source: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014, Table B19082.

 

Rank Jobs and Education
10 High School Graduation Rate: 86 percent of high school students in Maine graduated on time at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data.

28 Higher Education Attainment Rate: 39.6 percent of young adults ages 25 to 34 in Maine had an associate’s degree or higher from 2011 to 2013.

Source: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey,2013 3-year estimate

11 Disconnected Youth: 12 percent of youth ages 18 to 24 in Maine were not in school or working in 2013.

Source: Kids Count Data Center, Population Reference Bureau, analysis of datafrom the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2013.

19 Unemployment Rate: 5.7 percent of all workers in Maine were unemployed in 2014.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2014.

27 Gender Wage Gap: Among full-time, year round workers in Maine in 2014, women’s median earnings were 78.9 percent of men’s earnings.

Sources: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014, Table S0201.

 

Rank Family Stability and Strength
33 Children Living Apart from Parents: 7 children in Maine lived in foster care for every 1,000 children under age 18 in 2013.

Source: Kids Count Data Center, Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and ReportingSystem.

7 Teen Birth Rate: There were 17.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 19 in 2013 in Maine.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Vital StatisticsSystem.

Rank Family Economic Security
20 Lack of Health Insurance Coverage: 18.7 percent of people under age 65 and below 138 percent of the poverty line in Maine did not have health insurance at any time in 2014.

Source: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2014, Table C27016.

40 Hunger and Food Security: 16.2 percent of households in Maine were food insecure on average from 2012 to 2014, meaning that at some point during the year, they experienced difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of money or resources.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Household Food Security in the UnitedStates in 2014.

23 Unemployment Insurance Coverage: 28.7 percent of unemployed workers in Maine were helped by unemployment insurance in 2014.

Sources: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American CommunitySurvey, 2013

32 Affordable and Available Housing: Maine had 60 apartments or other units that were affordable and available for every 100 renter households with very low incomes in 2014. Very low-income households are those with incomes at or below half of median income in the metropolitan or other area where they live.

Sources: Analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American CommunitySurvey, 2013; National Low Income Housing Center, Housing Spotlight 5 (1) (2015).

33 Savings and Assets: 7.9 percent of households in Maine used high-cost, high-risk forms of credit to make ends meet during 2013. This includes payday loans, automobile title loans, refund anticipation loans, rent to own, and pawning.

Source: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Survey of Unbanked andUnderbanked Households, 2013