- Associated Press - Thursday, September 18, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Fewer Mainers were living in poverty in 2013 compared to the year before, but family income dropped as well, according to figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday.

The number of Mainers living in poverty declined 0.7 percent, from 189,786 to 180,639, according to the American Community Survey that polled people between January and December 2013. Maine’s median household income dropped 0.8 percent, from $47,330 to $46,974, the report said.

The declines in both poverty and wages were within the margin of error and estimates are based on a sample of households, so economists said that it’s just as likely that they remained unchanged.

Overall, Maine’s poverty rate of 14.7 percent in 2013 was lower than the nationwide rate, which was essentially unchanged in 2013 from the previous year at just below 16 percent.

Nationally, more than 48 million people were living in poverty, which for a family of four means they made less than $23,800 a year - $11,800 a year for an individual.

Maine was ranked last in New England for income, and second-to-last behind Rhode Island for the poverty rate.

Glenn Mills, chief economist at the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information said Maine has lagged the other states in the region for several years when it comes to income.

“Incomes in Connecticut are heavily influence by the proximity to New York City,” while “Massachusetts has the Boston area … and all the technology companies,” Mills said.

Joel Johnson, an economist with the liberal-leaning Maine Center for Economic Policy said the decline in the poverty rate among children is encouraging but shows that Maine still has a lot of work to do.

The percentage of children in poverty under age 18 dipped to 17 percent in 2013 from 20.4 percent in 2012, while poverty among children under 5 dropped to 20.4 percent from 26.9 percent.

“Despite the improvement we saw this year, there are still way too many Maine kids living in poverty,” he said.

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