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Data: 257,000 Mainers Having Trouble Paying Household Expenses

A new analysis of census data by the national Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and Maine Center for Economic Policy finds that about 257,000 Maine adults are having trouble paying their usual household expenses.

“That includes things like utility bills, groceries, being able to make payments for your rent or mortgage, putting gas in the car, that sort of thing, those everyday expenses that we all have to put in our regular weekly or monthly budget,” says James Myall with the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

Maine’s number — about a quarter of adults— is lower than most states. Myall says this likely has something to do with the relatively low rate of COVID-19 infection in Maine.

“People going out and spending money and going back to work, you can’t do any of those things if the virus is raging out of control. So I think that’s making the situation worse in other places than it is here in Maine,” he says.

The CBPP analyzed data from the Census Household Pulse survey which was collected in the last two weeks of September.

Mississippi showed the largest percentage of adults having trouble meeting expenses, at 41 percent; Minnesota and Vermont had the smallest, at 23 percent. The national average was about 32 percent.

Those numbers were much higher among nonwhite Americans, with 48 percent of non-Latino Black adults having trouble with expenses.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.