The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that Maine's total gross state product for 2011 was $51.6 billion. Health care services Manufacturing represented 121% of the total and manufacturing 11%. All real estate related activity contributed 13%. The median household income was $46,033 in 2011, ranking 31st in the nation.
Manufacturing is still the largest sector in the state's economy. Maine is a leading producer of paper and wood products, which are the most valuable of all manufactures in the state.
Food products and transportation equipment are also important, but production of leather goods (especially shoes) has declined. The mineral wealth of the state is considerable. Many varieties of granite, including some superior ornamental types, have been used for construction throughout the nation. Sand and gravel, zinc, and peat are found in addition to stone. However, much of Maine's abundant natural and industrial resources remain undeveloped.
Agriculture has always struggled with adverse soil and climatic conditions. Since the opening of richer farmlands in the West, Maine has tended to concentrate on dairying, poultry raising and egg production, and market gardening for the region. The growing of potatoes, particularly in Aroostook County, was stimulated by the completion of the Aroostook RR in 1894. Blueberries, hay, and apples are other chief crops, and aquaculture is growing in importance.
Maine's agricultural outputs are seafood (notably lobsters), poultry and eggs, dairy products, cattle, blueberries, apples, and maple sugar. Aroostook County is known for its potato crops.
Western Maine aquifers and springs are a major source of bottled water. Its industrial outputs are paper, lumber, and wood products, electronic equipment, leather products, food processing, textiles, and tourism. Naval shipbuilding remains important as well, with Bath Iron Works in Bath and Portsmouth Naval Yard in Kittery.
Maine ports play a key role in national transportation. Around 1880, Portland's rail link and ice-free port made it eastern Canada's principal winter port, until the aggressive development of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the mid-1900s. In 2001, Maine's largest city surpassed Boston as New England's busiest port (by tonnage), due to its ability to handle large tankers.
Maine has a small trapping industry which, with 3,157 resident trappers, is nevertheless larger than that of most Eastern states. The principal pelt taken by value is beaver. Historically, however, beaver trapping was much more significant in the North Woods and Canadian Maritimes than the small industry of today and was the cause of much early wealth and many trading settlements.
Commitment to Small Business
Maine has very few large companies that maintain headquarters in the state, and fewer than before due to consolidations and mergers, particularly in the pulp and paper industry.
Although this could be viewed as a structrual weakness, Portland and the surrounding areas rely on a strong business culture of small to mid-size, privately owned companies. The downtown district in Portland, and the Old Port historical area, provide many business opportunites for residents and visitors. There is a significant emphasis on business growth throught the greater Portland area.
Some of the very few large companies that do maintain headquarters in Maine include Fairchild Semiconductor (South Portland), IDEXX Laboratories (a large veterinary biotech company in Westbrook) and the famous outdoor supply retailer L.L. Bean (Freeport). Maine is also the home of The Jackson Laboratory, a non-profit institution and the world's largest mammalian genetic research facility.
Comparisons to Regional Benchmark Cities
In 2010, the percent of all employed who were in Science and Engineering occupations in the Portland region (3.9%) was higher than Maine (2.7%) but lower than New England (4.2%) and the U.S. (4.1%).
2001-10, the Portland region experienced an increase of 40.1% in gross
metro product. This was lower than the average of 42.9% for the national
benchmark regions but was higher than the average for Maine (32.9%) and
the New England states (34.6%).
Regional and Local Unemployment Rate Comparisons
During this period, the unemployment rate for the Portland region experience a low of 3.3% in 2002, but has since risen, reaching a high of 6.8% in 2010, and dropping to 6.1% in 2011. During this period, the unemployment rate for the national benchmark regions started at 4.9% in 2002, climbed to a high of 8.5% in 2010, and dropped to 7.9% in 2011.
The unemployment rate for the City of Portland experienced a low of 3.4% in 2002, but has since risen, reaching a high of 6.5% in 2009, and dropping to 5.9% in 2011. During this period, the unemployment rate for the national benchmark cities started at 5.5% in 2002 and climbed to a high of 8.5% in 2010.