The surging buying power of the U.S. dollar has allowed consumers to benefit from cheaper imports and bargain-priced vacations abroad, but Maine’s manufacturers must now struggle to compete in a new global marketplace in which their products have suddenly become more costly.
“The rising dollar is a real threat,” said Kathie Leonard, the CEO of Auburn Manufacturing Inc., whose 50 employees in Auburn and Mechanic Falls make heat-resistant textiles. “It hurts us. I don’t know the extent it will be. I am scared to death, to tell you the truth.”
Maine-made products sold in Canada, for example, cost Canadians about 25 percent more now than a year ago. The dollar’s value has surged against all of America’s trading partners – up more than 16 percent against the Federal Reserve’s trade-weighted index of 26 other currencies.