2019 Measures of Growth Report Finds Maine Continues to Lead the Nation in Environment and Safety, but Persistently Struggles with Other Business, Community and Workforce Indicators

AUGUSTA, Maine – April 24, 2019 – The Maine Economic Growth Council today released its 25th annual Measures of Growth Report, a snapshot of where the state’s economy sits relative to our long-term goals, to other states, and the U.S. as a whole. It finds that overall, Maine continues to perform exceptionally well in terms of environment and safety, and persistently struggles in other business, community and workforce areas. This year’s report also issues an urgent call to action for the State of Maine to develop a long-term economic plan to grow the state’s economy and make a high quality of life possible for all Mainers.

“The Measures of Growth annual report has long provided valuable information about what we are doing right, where we need to improve, and the trends of progress or decline over time,” said Steve Von Vogt, Chair of the Maine Economic Growth Council.  “However, in order to truly make meaningful, sustainable progress Maine must develop, commit to and implement a long-term strategy for growing the economy and establishing our state as a vibrant, desirable place to do business and raise a family.”

In total, the report tracks 27 indicators that represent Maine’s assets and areas of persistent challenge. Maine made measurable progress on 7 indicators, but lost ground versus the benchmark on 7 others.  More specifically, the 2019 report assigns four Gold Stars signifying exceptional performance in the following areas:

  • Safety – Maine’s crime rate is 40% below the national average
  • Air Quality – The number and severity of unhealthy or even moderate air quality days continues to decline and in 2018 were the lowest on record
  • Water Quality – The water quality of Maine rivers and streams remains far above the U.S. average
  • Sustainable Forest Lands The growth to harvest ratio increased between 2016 and 2017

It assigns six Red Flags highlighting the following areas in need of particular attention:

  • Research and Development Expenditures – Total spending on R & D declined $25 million between 2015 and 2016, and Maine ranks 45th of the 50 states
  • Fourth Grade Reading and Eighth Grade Math Scores – In 2017, 36% of 4th graders were proficient in reading, trailing the New England average by 7 points
  • Working Age Population – Maine’s proportion of working age population continues to decline, and is below the national average
  • Cost of Health Care – Maine’s health care spending remains at 17.8 percent of all personal expenditures since 2015, which is above the U.S. average and a full percentage point above the New England average
  • Transportation Infrastructure – In 2017, 33% of Maine’s most-traveled highways were graded “D” or “F”

“The Maine Economic Growth Council’s vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people is the foundation of our work at MDF,” said Yellow Light Breen, President and CEO of Maine Development Foundation. “Improving Maine’s economy requires both brutal honesty and unquenchable optimism.  We look forward to the opportunity to work with the new Administration and other policymakers, along with business and community leaders, over the next decade to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive, long-term plan that delivers on this vision.”

The Maine Economic Growth Council takes a nonpartisan, data-driven approach to presenting an unbiased picture of Maine’s economy and well-being. Measures of Growth is designed to be a resource for policy and decision makers at all levels, helping them to focus their efforts and understand the connections between the major issues affecting the state. Since 1993, the Council has served as an unbiased analyst and advisor of Maine’s economic health and status, and is administered by the Maine Development Foundation (MDF).  Council members are jointly appointed by the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House, and represent a broad and diverse cross-section of Maine’s key constituencies. 

You can read the Full Report here, and read the Executive Summary here.



Kathleen Shannon Nichols

MDF Director of Engagement and Communications


(207) 400-1828