Gas and oil may be cheap, but Mainers still spent gobs on them

While gasoline prices have dipped to surprising lows, oil-heavy Maine households still spent more on it and other energy commodities than almost every other state.

Maine had the third-highest per-capita cost for gasoline and other energy goods, not including utilities like electricity or piped natural gas.

It was behind the other small and cold states of North Dakota and Wyoming for those per-capita expenditures and just ahead of Vermont.

North Dakota’s population is around half of Maine’s and Wyoming’s is less than half of Maine’s. Both states had higher total fuel oil consumption than Maine in 2013, according to estimates by the Energy Information Administration.

The figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis allow ranking Maine against other states in various categories of household spending, showing the state had among the highest per-capita spending on groceries, health care and motor vehicles and parts last year.

Those per-capita figures allow comparisons of the makeup of household spending to other states, while the totals of expenditures show that health care and housing and utilities make up, by far, the bulk of household spending in the state.

Use the color legend at the bottom of the chart below to highlight a category of spending and hover to see the annual spending totals and the compound growth rate, starting with spending in 1997.

The overall spending figures show that gasoline and other fuel costs have fluctuated the most dramatically of all spending categories, dipping in 2009 and falling gradually in aggregate since 2011.

The prices of gasoline and other fuels have dipped around the country at a faster pace than in Maine, which is an outlier with around 60 percent of homes still using No. 2 heating oil for winter heat.

That spending is likely to continue to decline next year, as prices for heating oil and gasoline have remained at lows since a decline in pump prices since late 2014.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.