PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- New Hampshire residents got some happy news this week—although it might aggravate some of their neighbors. The U.S. Census reports New Hampshire has the highest median household income in the country.
The Census says the Granite State’s median household income is $76,260. That is far more than Maine, which comes in as one of the lower income states, with a median of $50,856.
People in Maine have grumbled about the prosperity of their next door neighbor for years. Politicians and others in Maine often point to New Hampshire’s lack of sales or income taxes as the reason. The University of Southern Maine's Ryan Wallace, who heads the Maine Center for Business and Economic Research, says the biggest advantage for New Hampshire may be geographic: it borders greater Boston.
"To really see why its income is so much higher," said Wallace, "its been pushed up by the southern counties that border the Massachusetts area, which we know is one of the most productive high-tech metropolitan areas in the world."
Wallace said being close to greater Boston creates jobs and drives up incomes in Southern New Hampshire, though he said the economy in the northern part of the state is similar to much of Maine.
NEWS CENTER political analysts Phil Harriman and John Richardson had their own takes on the income disparity. Richardson said New Hampshire has invested more than Maine in Research and Development to attract business and jobs. He said that, along with location and no sales or income taxes, has helped boost incomes.
Harriman said low taxes, less government regulation, and even a pro-business attitude also make a difference for New Hampshire.
Ryan Wallace said Maine isn't necessarily doing anything wrong. He said the median household income in Cumberland county is roughly $66,000, but that much lower incomes in the rural parts of Maine drag the statewide number down.
Harriman said Maine policy makers need to look at New Hampshire as an example to follow, to the extent they can.
"We need to ask," he said, "what are they doing right?"