Renters around Portland have been paying about 10 percent more than the national average as Bangor and Lewiston renters have seen costs drop through 2015.
That’s according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that measures purchasing power in metro areas around the country.
While goods and services generally cost less in Maine metro areas, rents varied widely. Bangor was about 10 percent below the national average and Lewiston was about 20 percent below, and dropping.
The bureau combines that cost data with income statistics, delivering a better sense of where in the country people stand to get the most bang for their buck.
While the data does compare costs to per capita income, it doesn’t provide a detailed look at housing or rental affordability.
The figures show that while rental costs are dropping, purchasing power per resident around Bangor and Lewiston still hasn’t grown as quickly as in the Portland area since 2008.
The chart below shows short-term changes on the vertical axis and the longer-term change, from 2008 to 2015, on the horizontal axis. Maine’s metro areas are in blue.
The figures show Portland-area purchasing power has grown more since 2008, at 5.6 percent, but it still lags the national average of 7 percent growth.
As opposed to overall income figures, the per-capita measure controls in some way for differences in population growth across the metro areas.
By that measure, Portland is above-average nationally. Bangor and Lewiston were behind, but showed signs of catching up in 2015 as they grew faster during that period than Portland.
As a whole, Maine’s per capita real personal income grew 2.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, lagging the national average of 3.4 percent.