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Maine Development Foundation


'Measures of Growth 2017' report: Maine gets 'red flag' for R&D

By Staff


April 26th, 2017

An annual report that assesses economic indicators related to Maine's business climate, workforce, health and wellness, civic assets and the environment gives the state high marks for exceptional performance in international exports, air and water quality.

But it issued several red flags identifying five areas needing particular attention: research and development expenditures, fourth-grade reading scores, post-secondary educational attainment, working age population and transportation infrastructure.

The Maine Economic Growth Council presented Measures of Growth 2017 to the Maine Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday. The annual report tracks Maine's performance on fundamental economic indicators and the key leverage points that move the state toward the council's vision of a high quality of life for all Maine people.

Three indicators receiving "gold stars":

    Maine's international exports grew by almost 5% from 2015 to 2016, while U.S. exports declined by over 3% during the same period.
    The water quality of Maine rivers and streams remains far above U.S. averages.
    The number and severity of unhealthy air quality days have declined dramatically in recent decades.

Five indicators receiving "red flags":

    Maine continues to spend only about 1% of its total Gross Domestic Product on R&D, which ranks the state 37th nationally.
    Just over one-third, or 36%, of all Maine fourth graders tested at "proficient or above" reading levels in 2015, compared to 43% in New England.
    Maine's post-secondary degree attainment rate continues to grow but trails New England's average.
    Maine's working age population (ages 18-64) is declining, with further decreases projected for the future.
    The percentage of major roads, which carry 70% of passenger and freight traffic in the state, meeting "fair or better" standards is falling short of expectations.

Overall, four indicators (namely, per capita personal Income, employment, international exports and broadband connectivity) made progress relative to their benchmarks, five lost ground and 16 saw no significant movement.

"The Measures of Growth annual report provides valuable information about our state: what we're getting right and what changes are needed to move Maine's economy forward," said state Sen. Andre Cushing III, R-Hampden, co-chairman of the Maine Economic Growth Council. "As policy makers, we rely on objective and comparative data to help inform our work. More than two decades of tracking key economic indicators has allowed us to understand the trends and what Maine needs to achieve a vibrant and sustainable economy."

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