The economies of Maine’s three metropolitan areas grew sluggishly in 2013, significantly lagging behind the nation as a whole, new statistics show.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis said Tuesday that the total value of goods and services produced in the Portland metro area grew by 0.7 percent last year, compared to a national average of 1.7 percent. Portland ranked 244th out of 381 metro areas in the percentage growth of its Gross Domestic Product, the BEA said.

Bangor performed worse, with an increase of just 0.1 percent in GDP. Bangor ranked 286th out of the 381 metro areas in the percentage growth of its GDP last year, the BEA said. And the growth in Lewiston-Auburn’s GDP matched Bangor’s at 0.1 percent in 2013, the BEA said.

The state GDP grew 0.9 percent in 2013, according to figures released by the BEA earlier this year. Maine ranked 41st in GDP growth for last year.

James Breece, an associate professor of economics at the University of Maine, said the lackluster figures, particularly for Portland, were a surprise.

He noted that Portland has attracted a lot of young residents, particularly from within the state, helping to counter the aging of the state as a whole – Maine has the nation’s oldest population.

“I expected there to see mild growth, but not this mild,” Breece said.

He said he anticipated that Bangor’s and Lewiston-Auburn’s GDP figures would come in below the national average, Breece said, but thought Portland’s economy would be more vibrant and at least come in near the national average, rather than post a growth rate half that of metro areas nationally.

Breece said factors that probably contributed to the slow growth include a skills gap, with employers in the state unable to find workers with the education and experience they need in today’s economy. He said costs, including higher salaries to attract workers from out of state with the necessary skills, higher utility costs and increased transportation costs are some of the factors that might be holding back growth in the state.

Maine’s three metro areas have also had a hard time recovering from the 2008-09 recession. Updated BEA figures show that the economy in Portland contracted by 1.7 percent in 2009, grew by 2.1 percent in 2010, declined again by 0.5 percent in 2011 and grew by 0.7 percent in 2012, matching that figure in 2013.

Bangor’s GDP declined 1.7 percent in 2009, by 0.9 percent in 2010 and by 1 percent in 2011. Its economy grew by 0.8 percent in 2012, but growth slowed to 0.1 percent in 2013.

In Lewiston-Auburn, the economy declined 2.5 percent in 2009, 0.6 perecent in 2010 and 0.3 percent in 2011. The metro area’s economy grew by 1.3 percent in 2012 and 0.1 percent last year.

The BEA said Portland’s total GDP was $27.5 billion in 2013, the 88th largest metro economy in the country. Bangor’s GDP was $5.7 billion, 270th largest in the country, and Lewiston-Auburn’s was $4 billion, 339th largest in the country.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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