2007 Cost of Living Update: First Trimester

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 first trimester of 2007, 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 was 15.6 percent above the U.S. average. Portland ranked 29th highest cost of living out of the 215 metropolitan areas represented in the survey. The two categories most responsible for Portland’s high ranking are utilities, which ranked 18th highest at 26.3 percent above the U.S. average, and housing, which ranked 27th highest at 34.5 percent above the U.S. average.

Shown in Table 2 is a comparison of Portland to its 23 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. 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 in line with the U.S. average. Table 1 shows that Bangor was 3.1 percent above the U.S. average. Bangor ranked the 58th highest out of the 215 metropolitan areas represented in the survey.  While in most categories Bangor was in line with the U.S. average, the area’s utilities were considerably higher than the mean. Bangor ranked 13th highest for utilities at 28 percent above the U.S. average.

Shown in Table 3 is a comparison of Bangor to its 50 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 eighth highest cost of living. The primary culprits for this high ranking was utilities, which ranked third, and health care, which ranked fourth.

Important Data Note

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.