(The Center Square) – New reports show one in four adults in Maine face difficulty meeting household costs amid the financial downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recent census data analyzed by the Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) shows more than 250,000 Mainers had trouble paying for typical expenses like rent or mortgage, utilities, and food.
Maine fared better than the national average, which showed one-third of Americans facing household expense hardship.
“Maine's economic situation is tied to its experience with the pandemic,” James Myall, economic policy analyst at the MECEP told The Center Square by email. “Mainers have taken the public health crisis seriously, with social distancing, mask usage, and other best practices to keep families and communities safe. “
As the pandemic evolves, the need for financial relief hasn't changed.
“Hardship is still on the rise though, in part because federal stimulus and assistance, such as increased unemployment payments for laid-off workers, stimulus checks, and the Paycheck Protection Program funding, have all expired or run out of money,” Myall said. “That's made it harder for families to make ends meet during this economic downturn. Our economy is recovering, but the recovery is uneven and slow. Mainers in the tourism and hospitality sector, for example, have been harder hit than others. Absent additional support, their situation is unlikely to improve before winter.”
The state’s economic outlook, much like the national outlook, depends on how Congress responds to the ongoing pandemic and economic downturn, Myall said, adding that the next round COVID relief needs to help states, communities, and families emerge whole from the public health crisis.
“Maine's economy is not like the weather. Our outcomes are directly tied to the decisions state and federal policymakers will make in the coming weeks and months,” Myall said. “We need our leaders to back economic and public health policies that put Maine and the country on the road to recovery. We cannot rely on market forces alone to get us there.”