A report that assesses states’ fundamental abilities to successfully navigate an economy driven by technological innovation has placed Maine near the bottom of the pack.
Overall, Maine ranked 36th in the 2017 State New Economy Index, prepared by the nonprofit Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. (You can read the report here.) Maine ranked 28th in 2014, 27th in 2012, and 28th in 2010. However, the report has changed its methodology somewhat over the years, so the rankings are not really comparable year to year.
The 2017 State New Economy Index considers 25 indicators to determine the rankings, including the number of fast-growing firms, patents, R&D spending, and broadband availability. Maine ranked poorly in most, but did have a few bright spots.
Maine’s worse showing was in an area that most would think we’d do okay in: Manufacturing. Maine ranked:
- 44th in “Manufacturing Value Added,” which measures manufacturing value added per production hour worked;
- 44th in “High-Tech Exports,” which measures the value of high-tech goods and services exports as a share of gross state product; and
- 45th in “Export Focus of Manufacturing,” which measures the value of manufacturing and services exports per manufacturing and service worker.
Here are the areas where Maine fared well:
- 1st in “Online Agriculture,” which used a composite score of the percentage of farms that use computers for business and the percent with Internet access;
- 6th in “Movement Toward a Green Economy,” which is a composite score of the change in energy consumption per capita, renewable energy as a share of total energy consumed, and change in renewable energy’s share of total energy consumed; and
- 8th in “Immigration of Knlowedge Workers,” which used a weighted score of the foreign-born migrant population’s educational attainment.
Catherine Renault, a consultant who operates Innovation Policyworks and former director of the Maine Office of Innovation, was not surprised by the report’s findings.
Maine usually finds itself in the bottom 20 states in national reports that seek to measure economic factors related to technology and innovation. Last year, the Milken Institute placed Maine at 42nd in its State Technology and Science Index.
Renault pointed out that even some areas where Maine ranked well are not necessarily signs that we’re moving in the right direction. For example, while Maine ranked 6th in “Movement Toward a Green Economy,” she said that doesn’t mean we’re properly leveraging renewable technology to help our economy.
“This is a measure of our use of renewables, not our economic activity derived from that sector,” she said.
The report serves as another reminder that Maine needs to get its priorities straight.
“I think the thing that stands out the most to me is that many other states are investing heavily in their transition to a knowledge-based economy, and we are essentially standing still,” she said. “As a result, our rankings are falling by these measures that have less to do with regulation and taxes and more to do with the composition of our workforce and our industry base.”
How Maine Fared in the 2017 State New Economy Index
|Managerial, Professional, and Technical Jobs||24|
|Immigration of Knowledge Workers||8|
|Internal Migration of U.S. Knowledge Workers||22|
|Manufacturing Value Added||44|
|High-Wage Traded Services||38|
|Foreign Direct Investment||13|
|Export Focus of Manufacturing||45|
|Scientists and Engineers||41|
|Industry Investment in R&D||31|
|Non-Industry Investment in R&D||29|
|Movement Toward a Green Economy||6|