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Penquis

Release of the 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard

Low Annual Pay and High Energy Costs at Center of Struggle for Maine Residents

January 31, 2014

According to a report released by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), the 2014 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard for Maine shows that although Maine scores better than other states in policies and outcomes, there are areas in which the state scored poorly. Maine ranked 48th in average annual pay and 8th highest in average college debt.

The Scorecard explores how well residents are faring in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and assesses policies that are helping residents build and protect assets across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Housing & Homeownership, Health Care, and Education

Maine received a "C" in the Housing & Homeownership category, ranking 4th worst in the nation in foreclosure rate, but 4th highest in homeownership rate. “Though Maine's homeownership rate is high, many of those homes are substandard. Due to Maine's aging housing stock, there are a large number of homes with outdated heating systems, inadequate plumbing and/or electrical systems, poor insulation and structural decay,” states Charlie Newton, President and CEO of Penquis. “Those deficiencies increase home energy and maintenance costs, leaving little left for savings and contributing to the high percentage of residents classified as liquid asset poor. At the same time the Weatherization and Home Repair programs are currently operating below 2008 funding levels.”

Rising energy costs are increasing the financial burden on families. This week's heating fuel price survey showed the cost of a gallon of home heating oil jumped 7 cents in the past week to an average of $3.87. The Governor's Energy Office in its weekly survey reported Monday, January 24, that the average statewide price for kerosene is also up 7 cents to $4.27 per gallon. This week's average statewide price for propane (for heating customers) increased by 10 cents to $3.35 per gallon. Heating oil prices are up 4%, propane prices are up 23% and kerosene prices have increased 3% from last year.

Another major finding of the report shows that 47% of Maine residents have almost no savings on which to rely if a job loss, medical crisis or other emergency results in the loss of stable income. These residents are defined as "liquid asset poor," because they lack adequate savings to cover basic expenses for three months without steady income. “Maine has lost a large number of higher-paying jobs in the manufacturing industry, with many replaced by low-paying service jobs. With the average annual pay significantly lower than the national average, many Maine residents have difficulty meeting basic needs,” states Newton.

“The data from the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard makes it clear that much work still needs to be done to help more Maine families succeed, “Penquis serves as the Lead State Organization for the Assets & Opportunity Network, and has experience delivering asset development programs, including homebuyer education and home ownership programs; microenterprise development services; and the Family Development Account Program. We see the benefits of these programs first hand. According to Newton, programs like those have enabled hundreds of low-income individuals and families across the state to save to buy a home, pay for an education or start or expand a small business.”

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To access Maine's profile online, click here.

To read an analysis of key findings from the 2014 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard, click here.

For a printable, in-depth look at Maine’s profile see the document below.

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