2006 Cost of Living Update: 4th Quarter

Read the full report | The ACCRA Cost of Living Index© (ACCRA-COLI) is the country’s longest running cost of living index, published every quarter since 1968. Used widely by both the private and government sector, ACCRA-COLI is the most respected cost of living index. For the 4th quarter of 2006, the staff at The Maine Heritage Policy Center performed the survey in Maine for both the Portland and Bangor metro areas.

Portland

The survey results reveal that Portland has a high cost of living. As shown in Table 1, the cost of living in Portland stands 16.4 percent above the U.S. average. Portland ranks 23rd highest cost of living out of the 194 metropolitan areas represented in the survey. The two categories most responsible for Portland’s high ranking are utilities, which rank fifth highest at 34 percent above the U.S. average, and housing, which ranks 24th highest at 33.9 percent above the U.S. average.

Shown in Table 2 is a comparison of Portland to its 21 peer cities in the survey, cities that are within plus or minus 25 percent of Portland’s population. When compared to peer cities, Portland had the highest cost of living. Again, the primary culprits for the high ranking were utilities and housing, which both ranked first.

Bangor

For Bangor, the survey results reveal a cost of living that is more inline with the U.S. average. Table 1 shows that Bangor is 3.4 percent above the U.S. average. Bangor ranks the 43rd highest out of the 194 metropolitan areas represented in the survey. While in most categories Bangor was in line with the U.S. average, the area’s utilities are considerably higher than the mean. Bangor ranks fifth highest for utilities at 29.3 percent above the U.S. average.

Shown in Table 3 is a comparison of Bangor to its 47 peer cities in the survey, cities that are within plus or minus 25 percent of Bangor’s population. When compared to peer cities, Bangor had the sixth highest cost of living. Again, the primary culprit for this high ranking was utilities, which ranked second.

Important Note on Data

The Maine Heritage Policy Center will continue participating in this important survey into the future. However, as more data is collected, users of this data must be aware of one important caution. Since the number of participating cities varies from survey to survey, the results are not comparable over time. In other words, the ACCRA-COLI survey is designed to be a “snapshot-in-time” of cost of living differentials, rather than a measure of inflation over time.

About the author

J. Scott Moody is the Chief Executive Officer of MHPC. Scott has over 15 years of economic policy research and economic modeling experience from his work with The Tax Foundation and The Heritage Foundation. He has authored and co-authored over 150 published articles and books. He has testified twice before the House Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. Congress.