Jim Fossel’s Oct. 28 opinion column, “LePage saved Maine Economy,” is factually inaccurate. The Maine economy has been stagnant since 2010. On LePage’s watch, Maine has increasingly become a state of working poor, with many Mainers’ standard of living declining.

According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maine’s statewide gross domestic product, the total dollar value of goods produced and services provided annually when corrected for inflation, has only increased by 0.4 percent since 2010. And that very limited economic growth was largely in southern Maine.

So it should not be a surprise to anyone who is in tune with their community that so many Mainers’ are struggling financially. For example, a comparison of U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data for 2010 and 2017 shows that the number of Maine families of four not making a livable income increased 12 percent during the LePage era, while households with middle-class incomes decreased by 10.6 percent. Based on MIT’s livable income calculator, a livable income in Maine requires each adult to earn a minimum of $15.82 per hour working full-time. According to the website Business Insider, an annual middle income in Maine is between $35,560 and $106,160.

The above economic realities resulted in substantial increases in hunger and food insecurity. Maine’s hunger rate is the third highest in the nation, and is increasing while declining elsewhere, according to a 2017 study by the Good Shepard Food Bank. U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service data show that food insecurity in Maine increased the most from 2010 to 2018 among children and seniors, up 7.5 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.

Fossel needs to do his homework. That or he should at least get out more.

George Seel


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