Maine’s population grew at more than twice the national rate last year, fueled in part by people leaving more populated states during the pandemic and following decades of lagging growth here.

At the same time, the state continued to age more rapidly than the national average, continuing a trend that has broad implications for the workforce, healthcare systems, the housing market and more.

In addition, Mainers’ incomes grew from 2021 to 2022, although real earnings declined when adjusted for inflation. The state’s poverty rates dropped, especially among children, although a decline in public support – specifically the child tax credit payments – has added to financial pressure on low-income families nationwide.

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released state-level data from the American Community Survey, which is meant to provide annual demographic updates between the regular decennial censuses, the most recent of which was released in 2020.

“Maine’s population continues to grow at an encouraging rate because people from across the nation are recognizing what Maine people have always known: that Maine is a safe, welcoming, and beautiful state and that we offer unparalleled quality of life and opportunity,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement provided by her office. “While Maine has its share of challenges like every state, we will continue to work hard to build a state that is poised for growth and opportunity for all.”

Maine’s state economist was still analyzing the new data Thursday and was not able to discuss the trends, a spokesperson said.


Here’s a closer look at some of the data from Maine.

• Maine’s population increased by 13,093 people from 2021 to 2022, just shy of 1%. That follows an increase of 9,888 people from 2020 to 2021. Last year’s increase was more than double the national growth rate of about 0.4% and the biggest increase of any New England state.

Florida, Idaho and South Carolina saw the highest rates of population growth last year, census data shows. Fourteen states saw population decreases, led by New York, Louisiana and Illinois.

While the larger-than-average increase last year in Maine’s population may not continue, it goes against long-term trends. Going back several decades, Maine’s population growth has consistently lagged behind the nation’s.

Between the 2010 and 2020 census reports, Maine’s population increased by just 2.6%, while the U.S. population overall grew by 7.4%. Only seven states grew at a slower rate than Maine during that decade.

From 2000 to 2010, the increase was 4.2% in Maine, compared to 9.7% nationally. From 1990 to 2000, Maine gained just 3.8%, compared to 13.2% nationally. And from 1980 to 1990, Maine’s increase of 9.2% was only slightly less than the national rate of 9.8%.


Maine’s population increase last year was driven by in-migration and not by any kind of baby boom. In fact, deaths outnumbered births in Maine by more than 5,000. The trend of deaths outnumbering births has been going on for the last decade and the gap is expected to widen in the years ahead because Maine already is a relatively old state and because fewer people are having babies.

The number of people moving into Maine, a trend driven partly by the pandemic, has helped increase demand for housing, creating shortages and fueling residential development in southern Maine.

•  The percentage of Maine residents who are 65 or older increased by more than 5% from 2021 to 2022, from 297,101 to 312,893. The over-65 population grew 3.4% nationwide. Nearly 1 in 4 Maine residents (23.6%) is now 65 or older, compared to 17.3% of all U.S. residents.

As the state’s population continues to age and more people exit the workforce, either because of retirement or death, Maine’s economy and its employers could become increasingly reliant on people moving in from other places.

• After adjusting for inflation, Maine’s median household income decreased slightly in 2022, from $70,008 to $69,483. The national median decreased by a bigger percentage but remains more than $5,000 higher than the Maine median.

Although Maine’s median household income was about $70,000 last year, more than one in three Maine households – 35.8% – earned less than $50,000, which is slightly higher than the national rate.


New Jersey had the highest median household income of any state at $96,346. Mississippi had the lowest at $52,719. Only five states – Alabama, Alaska, Delaware, Florida and Utah – saw median household incomes increase faster than inflation in 2022, while 17 states saw decreases. The remaining 28 saw no significant differences, according to the survey.

In Maine, there were big disparities in income from south to north. In Cumberland County, the median household income was $89,345, while the median in Penobscot County was just $61,134.

• Maine’s poverty rate decreased slightly in 2022, to 10.8% from 11.5% in 2021. The national rate stayed almost the same during that time. The poverty level depends on the household size. For individuals, it’s an annual income of $13,590 and for a family of three, it’s $23,030.

Childhood poverty in Maine decreased from 15.1% in 2021 to 11.7% last year, a more significant drop than the national rate, which went from 16.9% to 16.3%.

However, using the supplemental poverty measure – which includes some public assistance as income – the national rate of childhood poverty increased dramatically, from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% last year. Advocates have pointed to the expanded child tax credit payments, which were discontinued in 2022 after congressional Republicans failed to support them, as a major factor in that increase.

A breakdown of supplemental poverty measures for individual states was not available, so it’s not clear where Maine fits into this picture. Mainers did receive direct pandemic relief payments in the amount of $850 in 2022, which likely counted as income, and that could have factored into the state’s drop in childhood poverty.

• The percentage of Maine residents living without health insurance increased to 6.6% in 2022, from 5.7% the year before. That’s still down from 8% in 2019, which was the same year the state expanded access to MaineCare under the Mills administration.

Although Maine’s rate increased slightly last year, it’s still lower than the national uninsured rate of 8%.

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