Maine’s Lack of Population and Job Growth Tamps Down Growth in Wages and Salaries

Today’s data release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows Maine’s personal income growth kept pace with the nation and the region in the second quarter of 2014, but Maine’s lack of population and job growth will make it difficult for the state to keep up over the long run.

Personal income is the sum of wages and salaries, fringe benefits, bonuses, income from investments, “pass through” income from businesses, and transfer payments like social security checks and Medicare and Medicaid payments.

Components-of-PI-Pie-charts

Wages and salaries are the biggest single component of personal income, but Maine’s growth in wages and salaries in recent years trails the nation and the region and ranks near the bottom of states.

wages-and-salaries--US,-NE,-ME

The slow growth in wage and salary income should be no surprise considering Maine’s lack of job growth, which in turn is due at least in part to the state’s lack of population growth and aging workforce. It is Maine’s aging population that receives Social Security and Medicare benefits who are largely responsible for Maine’s higher percentage of transfer payments.

It’s important to keep in mind that income for typical Maine households hasn’t grown at all in recent years and remains below pre-recession levels. The growth in total wages and salaries shown in the chart above mostly accrued to wage and salary earners in the upper half of the income distribution, and it isn’t adjusted for inflation.

Barring more job growth and/or population growth, we can expect Maine’s slow growth in wages and salaries to continue. With wages and salaries making up the largest component of personal income, it’s going to be hard for Maine’s total personal income growth to keep up with the nation’s over the long run.

ACA cost saving measures help turn McAllen, Texas from national basket case to bellwether in five years

Health reform hasn’t only reduced the rate of uninsured to levels not seen since the 1990s; it also is reducing healthcare costs, which ultimately will make healthcare more affordable for everyone.  The small city of McAllen, Texas grabbed the national spotlight five years ago as a place where costs and unneeded procedures were out of control.  Now, McAllen is making headlines again.  But this time, it’s a health reform success story.

ACA cost savings 9-24-2014FBPre-health reform, Medicare spending per enrollee in McAllen was double the national average.   But people in McAllen weren’t twice as healthy. They just received many more specialty medical treatments, at a higher cost.  A sick Medicare beneficiary in McAllen was two-thirds more likely to see ten or more specialists in a six-month period; the average McAllen Medicare patient was 200 percent more likely to undergo nerve-conduction testing for carpal tunnel syndrome, and 500 percent more likely to undergo specialized testing for prostate trouble.  However, McAllen Medicare patients were actually less likely to receive inexpensive, but effective, preventive screenings and primary care.  And their health outcomes were worse than other towns in that region.

The McAllen analysis not only made a splash in the media, it caught the attention of Barack Obama.  The newly elected president made sure that his advisors kept McAllen in mind as they designed and implemented health reform.  The president even invoked McAllen in remarks to the American Medical Association.  Something had to be done in this country – not just to help people afford insurance, but to stop the skyrocketing costs of the care covered by insurance.

This week, in a kind of coda to the story released five years ago, McAllen received national attention, but this time for a achieving a 180 degree turnaround: the Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) in McAllen saved $20 million in a little more than a year – while significantly improving patients’ health.  Even though Medicare paid less per enrollee, more McAllen diabetics had their condition under control.  Elderly patients were more likely to receive flu shots than they had been before the cost-cutting innovation was in place.

Before health reform, Medicare paid doctors and hospitals for each service they performed with no consideration for need, effectiveness, or patient outcome.  In recent years, chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and kidney disease have driven Medicare cost growth.  Many of these conditions are avoidable with proper preventive care, and all are cheaper – and less invasive – to treat at the outset.  However, the fee-for-service model offered incentivizes to providers to order more costly interventions, tests, and treatments, without regard to whether patients’ underlying conditions improved.

In response, the framers of the Affordable Care Act set up ACOs as an innovative new Medicare payment system.  An ACO pays providers more if their patient population is kept well.  Systems receive bonuses dependent on the percentage of their patient population whose diabetes is controlled, or screened for cancer.  At the same time, a Medicare ACO penalizes systems for unnecessary treatments, such as repeated diagnostic tests or expensive hospital readmissions for people released prematurely from inpatient care.

ACOs forestall the kind of uncoordinated, revenue-driven care that was breaking McAllen and the nation’s health care system.  A nationwide evaluation showed that a small pilot group of hospital ACOs has saved Medicare $380 million.  Here in Maine, the Bangor Beacon ACO reduced spending per beneficiary by $499.  Multiplied across the many ACOs around the country, these savings per enrollee are helping to extend the long-term solvency of the Medicare program.  Three years ago, Medicare spent $12,000 per person.  Now it spends $11,200, and that cost is projected to keep declining.  The 10-year savings connected to this trend amount to $715 billion.

Too often, whatever gets more eyeballs or internet “click throughs” guides the public debate.  While the bruising debate over the palatability and timing of health reform dominated the media, burgeoning Medicare costs were threatening to swamp the Treasury. The Affordable Care Act is helping to change that.  McAllen, once a basket case, is now a bellwether.

Health Reform is Making History – But Maine is Slipping Behind

History is happening: the percent of Americans without health coverage is the lowest it’s been since the 1990s. Medicare costs are declining – not just slowing – making the program more sustainable in the future. Maine’s 2015 marketplace premiums are either flat – or lower than last year. Health reform is working.

I happened across a time capsule this summer, and it brought home for me exactly how huge an impact the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has had. As all Mainers know, there are camps and cottages across our state, and they usually have stacks of old copies of National Geographic, paperbacks from the 1970s, and other remainders from past visitors. My family camp is no exception. Someone had folded a Bangor Daily News op-ed page from July 2007 and stuffed it neatly in our magazine rack. Taking it out, I read the first editorial, which bemoaned the intractable rise in health costs with no end in sight. The writer said, “The best way to take on the rising cost of healthcare would be national, wide-scale health reform – but that looks unlikely to happen any time in the near future.”

What a difference seven years makes. Health reform did happen within two years of that editorial, and that dour editorialist could never have foreseen what the results have been:

The uninsured rate has declined significantly – and most significantly for young adults.

Overall, the uninsured rate declined from 2013 to early 2014. The most significant decrease was among young adults aged 19-25. In 2013, 26.5 percent of young adults were uninsured; by the first three months of 2014, that number had dropped to 20 percent. This is partly attributable to the ACA’s popular provision that allows parents to keep their college-age children on their policies, and partly a function of the insurance exchanges, which experienced an uptick in young adult enrollment toward the end of the enrollment period.

Medicare costs per-user are down – and not due to roughshod cuts or privatization.

As the baby boom generation ages, Medicare costs have strained the federal budget. It’s worth recalling that opponents of the ACA have their own proposal to reduce federal Medicare costs: end Medicare as we know it in favor of a privatized voucher system. That hasn’t come to pass, but in the meantime, the successful aspects of the ACA have lowered Medicare costs by eliminating fraud and waste and coordinating patient care. Three years ago, Medicare spent $12,000 per person. Now it spends $11,200, and analysts project that cost will keep declining. The 10-year savings connected to this trend amount to $715 billion – making the ACA’s Medicare reforms a champion among deficit-reduction initiatives.

Despite opponents’ dire predictions, enrollment in marketplace plans exceeded expectations.

Despite predictions that the plans would be too expensive, that the uninsured did not want to buy health insurance, and that the unwieldy website would doom the ACA marketplace, people flocked to sign up for coverage in the last months of the enrollment period. In the end, more than seven million people purchased insurance through the marketplace. Twenty-two states exceeded their enrollment goals – some by more than 160 percent.

And (again despite naysayers’ predictions), 2015 marketplace premiums did not skyrocket.

Once marketplace enrollment was declared a success, the naysayers rolled out a new gremlin from their stockpile of bogeymen. “Get ready for your 2015 Obamacare premiums to double or even triple,” they warned.

2015 rates have not tripled. In Maine, average marketplace premiums will either decrease or remain flat. While premiums vary by state, few exceed double-digit increases – and remember that insurers can no longer charge healthy people less and sick people more, as they did in the bad old days. One of the scariest cases was self-inflicted: one insurer in Florida announced a 17.5 percent hike – but this was due to the concerted effort of ACA opponent Governor Rick Scott, who suspended the legislature’s ability to veto excessive insurance premium hikes.

Will Maine move into the future – or remain trapped in a pre-ACA time capsule?

In a state economy that has struggled with high health costs, this week’s rate announcement is welcome news.  Up to) 44,000 Mainers now receive coverage through the marketplace. Health reform works for Maine – when policymakers let it. Maine’s continued refusal to accepting federal healthcare funds, combined with 2011 cuts to MaineCare, means that our state is moving backward, not forward. Maine and New Jersey are the only two states where the rate of uninsured increased over 2012-2013. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially when historically, Maine’s uninsured rate has been among the nation’s lowest.  Health reform has happened, and it’s providing savings and opportunities that were inconceivable as recently as 2007. Let’s not keep Maine stuck in reverse, but start moving in the right direction again.

Maine’s Economic Recovery: Limited job growth, persistent underemployment, and declining incomes

For months, we’ve written about Maine’s anemic economic recovery relative to the rest of the country. Today’s August jobs report does little to change that story. Maine has recovered just 63 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession and still ranks 43rd among all states and Washington, DC in its jobs recovery. By contrast, the US has recovered 110 percent of jobs lost in the recession and New England has recovered 111 percent.

Maine Job Watch 9-19-2014

The headline for today’s jobs data is that Maine’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 5.6 percent in August from 5.5 percent the month before. In truth, the August figure could just as easily be the same or lower than it was in July. A 0.1 percentage point change in Maine’s unemployment rate from one month to the next is not that statistically meaningful. Longer term trends are what matter. Still, today’s number bucked the trend of declining unemployment which we’ve observed in Maine and across the country for almost four years now. Only time will reveal whether we return to this trend in the coming months or see stagnant or increasing unemployment.

For most Maine people, such statistics have little bearing on their lives as they work hard to provide for themselves and their families. The unemployment figure masks the sad reality that more than 40,000 Mainers face. They want full-time work but can’t find it. Maine has the 6th highest percentage of these “involuntary” part-time workers in the nation. Fifty thousand more Mainers continue to struggle without success to find any work. The bottom line is that Maine’s economy is still not creating enough jobs to go around.

The other elephant in the room is that the jobs that are available don’t necessarily pay enough for Maine families to make ends meet today and invest for their future. Based on data released earlier this week by the US Census Bureau, median household income in Maine in 2013 was $46,974. That’s $2,300 below what it was in 2009 adjusted for inflation.

MHHINC-2013-ACS 9-18-2014

There are plenty of examples of where Maine has left jobs on the table in recent years. The most obvious is the state’s refusal to accept federal funds to provide health care to almost 70,000 Mainers. The state is losing almost $1 million a day in federal funds. More than 250 days into the year, that’s nearly $250 million – more than the economic impact of Maine’s wild blueberry industry or the 2012 payroll of Maine workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Delays in issuing bonds have also cost the state jobs and undermined investments in research and development, roads and bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

We are not destined to slow growth in Maine, but today’s jobs report makes clear we’ve still got a long way to go.

Child poverty fell in 2013, but median household income continues to go nowhere

Child poverty in Maine fell back to pre-recession levels in 2013, but income for the median household and the overall poverty rate saw no improvement, according to annual estimates released today by the US Census Bureau.

Maine has 548,000 households. Half of them have incomes above the median and half have incomes below. The Census Bureau estimates that income of the median household in Maine was $46,974 in 2013, statistically no different than 2012’s figure of $47,330 (adjusted for inflation).  Maine’s median household income is actually $2,300 below what it was in 2009, a statistically significant decline.

MHHINC-2013-ACS 9-18-2014

Median household income is one of the most important indicators of the economic health of everyday working Mainers and their children. That’s why it’s so disheartening to continue to see median household income well below where it was even a decade ago.

There was some good news in today’s data release: the share of Maine’s children—especially very young children—living poverty declined substantially between 2012 and 2013. Poverty among children under 18 fell to 17.0% in 2013 from 20.4% in 2012, while poverty among children under 5 fell to 20.4% from 26.9%. Both changes were statistically significant.

Poverty Rates 9-18-2014The increase in recent years in poverty among Maine children was alarming, so it’s good to see those statistics improve. But make no mistake, poverty among children remains an enormous problem. 1 in 5 young children in Maine live in poverty, according to the latest estimate. Kids who live in poverty are more likely to struggle in school and suffer from poor health and nutrition.

Overall, the decline in children living in poverty wasn’t enough to make a substantial change in the overall poverty rate for the state. It ticked down slightly, but the change wasn’t statistically significant. In other words, to the best of our knowledge Maine’s poverty rate was no different in 2013 than it was in 2012.

Attention: Important Census Data Ahead

Data Ahead 9-12-2014Next week the U.S. Census Bureau will have two major releases that will provide researchers, policymakers, the media, and the public with critically important data on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage nationally and state-by-state. On Tuesday (September 16) the bureau will unveil its Current Population Survey (CPS) and select information about health insurance coverage from its American Community Survey (ACS).  On Thursday (September 18) the bureau will release the full results from the ACS for all states and subnational areas with populations greater than 65,000. The CPS, based on a sample of about 100,000 addresses, is the bureau’s official source of nationwide poverty data. The ACS, a much larger survey encompassing 3 million households, allows for state analysis with a single year’s worth of responses. The ACS is the preferred source for state-level income, poverty, and health insurance coverage data.

MECEP will issue press releases on both the Tuesday and Thursday data releases and augmenting those with posting on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Bonus: And for the real wonks out there, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release state jobs and employment data on Friday (September 19, 2014).

A simple 1-2 punch to give working Mainers a raise

Increasing Maine’s earned income tax credit and raising the state’s minimum wage would go a long way toward making work pay for Maine’s families today and lay the foundation for a stronger economy tomorrow, according to new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

With wages for the typical Maine worker still well below pre-recession levels and no signs of growth in sight, lawmakers should act immediately when they arrive in Augusta in January to deliver a 1-2 punch that will give Maine workers a much-needed raise.

Punch 1: Raise Maine’s minimum wage

Minimum wage EITC 9-5-2014Maine’s minimum wage is $7.50—25 cents higher than the federal minimum but still lower than it was forty years ago, after adjusting for the purchasing power of the dollar. The outgoing legislature passed a bill to increase it incrementally to $9 per hour by 2015 but failed to override Governor LePage’s veto. Next year, Maine lawmakers should follow President Obama’s proposal and raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to rise with inflation. No man or woman who works full-time should live in poverty, and this increase in the minimum wage would ensure that full-time workers earn at least $20,000 per year instead of the $15,000 guaranteed by the current $7.50 minimum.

Don’t believe the baseless argument from minimum wage opponents who claim that only teenagers make the minimum wage so they’d be the only ones getting a raise. Research at the national level has shown that the vast majority of those who would benefit are over age 20. The majority of them are women, and over two-fifths have at least some college education. In fact, a minimum wage increase would actually raise wages for the entire bottom fifth of the wage distribution.

Punch 2: Increase Maine’s earned income tax credit and make it refundable

The federal earned income tax credit increases take-home income for working families all across the US and helps lift millions of kids out of poverty. It also promotes work since it’s only available to men and women—mostly parents—who work. While Maine is one of 25 states that has its own version of the credit in its state tax code, ours is one of the smallest in the nation. It only amounts to 5% of the federal EITC and more importantly it is not refundable.

According to Maine Revenue Services, Maine’s EITC will provide a total of $937,000 in tax relief to 18,000 low- and moderate-income Mainers this year. That’s about $52, on average, for the families that benefit from it. Contrast that with the 100,000 Maine families who benefit from the refundable federal EITC, and receive an average annual benefit of more than $1,800.

By doubling Maine’s EITC and making it refundable, 100,000 working families in Maine would get an average tax benefit (tax cut or refundable credit) of $180 per year. For most of those families, that would be larger than the tax credit they received Governor LePage’s 2011 tax cut, and at much lower cost to the state budget and other taxpayers. Doubling the EITC and making it refundable would reduce income tax revenue by about $17 million per year (1.2%). Compare that with the $178 million (11%) cost of the 2011 income tax cut, the benefits of which flowed mostly to Maine taxpayers with more than $86,000 in annual income.

The Minimum Wage and EITC are Complementary

CBPP’s new report thoroughly explains why the EITC and minimum wage are complementary policies that work well together, so go read their analysis to get the whole story. But the basic gist is that because EITC and the minimum wage  reach slightly different but overlapping populations of low-income working men and women, they help spread the cost of making work pay for low-income families among employers, taxpayers, and consumers. They also provide benefits at different times: the EITC is a lump-sum annual benefit while the minimum wage affects every paycheck. And since both put money in pockets of those who will spend it to feed, house, clothe, and otherwise support themselves and their families, all of us will benefit as Maine’s economy expands and the children who benefit grow up to live productive lives.

Increasing and improving both the state’s minimum wage and EITC: a 1-2 punch that will be a winning combination for Maine’s working families.

Maine’s Working Families Deserve to Earn a Living Wage

The new report by the Alliance for a Just Society, “Families Out of Balance: How a living wage helps families move from debt to stability,” provides sobering data about how much Mainers must earn just to make ends meet.

Simply put, wages in Maine are insufficient to cover the cost of living – and even though the recession is officially over, too many people remain under- or un-employed.  The Alliance estimates that in order to cover the cost of groceries, housing, heating, and transportation, plus save for retirement and pay taxes, a single working adult in Maine needs to earn $15.82 an hour.  For a single-earner family with two children, a living wage is $28.86 an hour.  This living wage doesn’t include little extras like eating out occasionally, making home improvements, taking a vacation, etc.  The report authors calculated the cost of living a basic 20th-century middle-class lifestyle in Maine: housing, food, healthcare, and saving 10 percent of income for a rainy day.  And they conclude that for many Maine working families, this lifestyle is out of reach.

2014 Job Gap_Families Out of Balance_8-26-2014_MEinfographic_medium

Here’s a dose of reality:  while the statewide unemployment figure is 5.4%, the recession hasn’t ended yet for many Mainers. Four out of five new jobs in Maine are located in greater Portland. Unemployment remains above 7% in Franklin, Aroostook, Washington, Piscataquis, and Somerset Counties.  Since the official unemployment figure counts people who are working part-time as employed, it does not disclose the fact that Maine has 40,300 people- the nation’s 6th highest percentage -working part-time who would work full-time if they could.

And for far too many of those who are employed, the wages they earn are far from livable.

A Mainer working full-time for the state minimum wage of $7.50 per hour grosses $15,600 annually – less than half of what it takes to make ends meet, stay warm, and retire someday.

Some commentators argue that the minimum wage does not warrant policymakers’ attention, as it’s just a starting wage earned by teenage fast-food workers.  They’re wrong.  More than 23 percent of workers in Maine’s Second Congressional District earn minimum wage, the highest of any CD in New England.  That’s 60,000 people in a region encompassing more than 11 of Maine’s 16 counties.  Almost a third of women in the Second District earn minimum wage. These women aren’t working for “pin money” – 62 percent of Maine women earning the minimum wage have no partner supplementing their income, as pointed out in a recent report by the Maine Women’s Policy Center.   Statewide, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit more than 110,000 working Mainers.

Raising the minimum wage is just a good start.  The long-term fix for our broken economy is closer to the vision the Alliance for a Just Society articulates: an economy where people who work for a living can cover the necessities of life, care for their children, and put away a little money for a rainy day. Senator Collins, a Northern Maine native, said this week that the unemployment figure is “misleading.”  She’s right.  Huge areas of Maine – the small rural towns, the working coast, the state’s wooded and agricultural interior – have been left behind by the so-called “recovery.”

Maine needs leaders who will work to bridge growing income inequality, improve the standard of living, reduce personal and family debt, and enable Mainers to save to invest in better lives for themselves and their families. That is the only way to restore balance and enable working Mainers to move from debt to stability.

Don Cookson of WZON-AM’s The Pulse Morning Program, interviewed Christy about the Alliance for a Just Society report. To listen to the interview, click here.

LePage Proposal Will Exacerbate Maine’s Hunger Crisis

The facts are shocking. In the U.S. today, 1 in 7 Americans―more than 46 million people, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors―rely on food pantries and food kitchens to eat.

Of the households trying to stave off hunger,

  • 4% have someone in their home in active military service.
  • 34% have at least one member working.
  • 55% have unpaid medical bills.
  • 66% have stopped buying medicine in order to eat.
  • 80% buy cheaper, unhealthier food.

These are just some of the research findings from Hunger in America 2014 conducted by Feeding America, a national hunger relief charity. While the study is not Maine-specific, there is ample evidence that thousands of Mainers are also going hungry.

SNAP 2-7-2014

Further, the study’s findings offer a disturbing look at employment, especially in light of Governor LePage’s recent proposal to enforce work requirements on people receiving food assistance.

Maine is not exempt from the national trend of working households that are still going hungry. We need to do more to make higher education and job training affordable and accessible to give our workers better job skills. We also need to ramp up job attraction efforts to bring in better-paying, higher quality jobs to Maine.

But more telling is that almost one-quarter (24.1%) of food pantry clients are unemployed and looking for work or have stopped their job search because jobs simply aren’t available. This is true in Maine as well; where we have not recovered all of the jobs lost during the Great Recession, let alone added new ones.

It is bad enough that so many people must rely on shelters and soup kitchens and shop at food pantries. Now Governor LePage wants to cut off their federal food assistance. Under his latest proposal, unless they are working or volunteering 20 hours per week, thousands of Mainers could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) food assistance. This act will force even more people to food pantries that according to the Maine Hunger Initiative are already overburdened.

In states like Maine where low wages, unemployment, and underemployment likely force people to seek out food assistance, it makes no sense to pile on additional work requirements; especially ones that they are unlikely to fulfill in today’s job market.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will hold a public hearing tomorrow on proposed work requirements for food assistance.  You can speak in person at the hearing or send in written comments.

Testify in person:

When: Wednesday, August 20th at 2:00 p.m.
Where: DHHS Conference Room 110, 19 Union Street in Augusta

Submit written comments by August 31st to:

Department of Health and Human Services
Office of Family Independence
Attn: Patricia Dushuttle, Special Projects Manager
11 State House Station, 19 Union Street
Augusta, Maine 04333-0011

Let’s all tell the governor that his work requirement is a bad idea unless and until jobs are available for Mainers who need them.

July jobs report: Maine continues to lag US, New England recovery

The July jobs report, released today, raises continued concerns about the strength of Maine’s economic recovery. The state’s July unemployment rate of 5.5 percent remains unchanged from a month ago and is below the U.S. unemployment rate of 6.2 percent for July. That’s good, but today’s data also shows Maine losing ground in terms of job growth.

Maine dropped 900 jobs from the adjusted figures for June including 600 private-sector jobs. It’s important to note these figures will likely change with future revisions, but they’re the best available data we have at the moment. What’s more troubling is that Maine appears to be losing ground relative to the job recovery of other states. Maine has recovered 58 percent of the jobs lost during the recession which ranks 43rd among all states and Washington, DC. By contrast, the US has recovered 108 percent of jobs lost in the Great Recession and New England has recovered 124 percent. The state still needs 10,600 jobs just to return to pre-recession levels and 12,600 to keep pace with the US recovery.

Maine Job Watch - July - FINAL

Against this backdrop, over 90,000 Mainers are still struggling to find work according to data released in July by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A stubbornly large number of part-time workers who want more work but can’t find it is driving this trend. In fact, Maine has the 6th highest percentage of “involuntary” part-time workers in the nation. That’s 40,300 workers who want more work but can’t find it.

The high percentage of “involuntary” part-time workers is an important fact to bear in mind when considering Maine’s relatively high employment-to-population ratio. This ratio accounts for all workers as a share of the total adult population and provides a useful alternative to the monthly unemployment rate. True, Maine has one of the largest increases in the employment-to-population ratio of any state, though it remains well below pre-recession levels. This would suggest that, despite relatively low-wages and limited job opportunities, Mainers are doing their best to make ends meet even if that means taking a part-time job in the absence of full-time work.

Another factor driving Maine’s high employment-to-population levels are older workers who have either reentered the workforce or are working longer.  The employment rate for prime-working-age Mainers—those who are most likely to be raising families—has not improved at all from 2009 to 2013.

Today’s jobs and employment data tells only part of the story of the challenges working Mainers face. To attain a more complete recovery Maine’s unemployment and employment-to-population ratio must return to historic levels AND not be sustained by part-time workers who want more work or by older workers who are remaining in the workforce out of economic necessity. A real recovery would afford workers access to jobs that result in increased income and financial security. More than five years since the end of the recession, we still have a long way to go.