Read the full report | What is Maine’s business climate? That is an age-old question usually answered with one anecdote or another. Depending on one’s vantage point, Maine’s business climate could be too hot, too cold or just about right. Unfortunately, creating public policy based on anecdotes often leads to a “shotgun” approach to legislation where tiny problems get addressed but no one is able to put together a view of the bigger picture. A large part of the problem has been a lack of detailed empirical data on Maine’s businesses—until now.
This study is the sixth of many studies that uses a powerful new database of Maine’s businesses called the National Establishment Time-Series (NETS) Database. NETS is based on the far-reaching Dun & Bradstreet Marketing Information file that has nationally tracked more than 36.5 million establishments between 1989 and 2007. The file tracks businesses via an assigned “DUNS number,” the business equivalent of a personal Social Security number. As such, the NETS database is the most comprehensive establishment-level census available.
Maine’s state level file contains data for 161,351 commercial, not-for-profit and government establishments between 1989 and 2007. As of 2007, approximately half of those establishments (84,326) still exist with the remainder having either closed, moved out-of-state, or consolidated. These Maine establishments, in 2007, employed 702,028 people. Overall, Maine’s employment is divided into two sectors—commercial, for-profit establishments and noncommercial establishments (government, not-for-profits and religious organizations). This distinction is important because only the commercial, for-profit sector can create new jobs, income and wealth. Noncommercial establishments exist from the fruits of the commercial sector via taxes or charitable contributions. This study examines the state of Maine’s noncommercial establishments.