Tag Archives: Maine employment

Growth scorecard reveals that Maine shined last summer

Maine must open doors to immigration.
Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr/Creative Commons license 2.0 | https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which released its report Wednesday, Maine’s increase ranked 16th in the U.S. Nationally, the GDP rose 1.9 percent in the third quarter – a sharp drop from the 3.8 percent growth in the second quarter of 2015 – and New England’s GDP as a whole rose 2.0 percent.

The state’s economic output grew from $54.6 billion in the third quarter of 2014 to $55.8 billion a year later. That’s less than the 2.5 percent increase cited by the bureau, but is based on annualized rates and other factors that affect the formulation.

Nationally, the bureau said retail trade and the combination of health care and social assistance accounted for much of the economic growth in the quarter, which held true in Maine as well.

Retail trade contributed 0.54 percentage points to the state’s overall growth, and health care and social assistance contributed 0.58 percentage points. Construction also picked up in the quarter, along with manufacturing of non-durable goods – products expected to last three years or less.

The Irving in Medway is set to lower its prices again before Christmas.
The Irving in Medway is set to lower its prices again before Christmas.

Higher retail spending last summer was likely a result of falling gas prices, said Curtis Picard, executive director of the Retail Association of Maine. Picard said the decline in gas prices picked up steam last summer and gave Mainers more money to spend on other things. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in July 2014 was $3.61, and by July 2015 it was $2.75 and continuing to fall.

Picard also said he attended a conference recently in which a speaker said to expect increased purchasing by young adults. As the economy has picked up and unemployment has fallen, he said, more recent college graduates have been able to move out of their parents’ homes. That means increases in the sales of furniture and household goods.

Maine retailers may have benefited from the start of that trend last summer, Picard said, and he expects it will carry over into this year.

Amanda Rector, Maine’s state economist, concurs with Picard about the economic boost in Maine from falling oil and gas prices.

Rector said she expects the numbers to show solid growth in the fourth quarter of 2015, although she said holiday sales were up only slightly from 2014.

“But it’s nice to see growth on growth,” she said.

Rector noted that Mainers continue to benefit from sharply lower heating oil costs and mild weather, which provided many households with even more disposable income this winter.

Maine’s GDP increase for the third quarter of 2015 was tops in New England. Massachusetts had the second-strongest growth, with its GDP increasing 2.2 percent. Rhode Island and Vermont followed with increases of 2.1 percent. New Hampshire was fifth, at 1.7 percent, and Connecticut lagged at 1.6 percent growth.

The only sector that contracted in Maine during the quarter was the wholesale trade, which subtracted 0.34 percentage points from the overall increase in the state.

South Dakota posted the biggest increase in GDP during the quarter, rising 9.2 percent. The slowest growth was in its neighboring state, North Dakota, where the economy contracted by 3.4 percent.

source:  pressherald.com

Newcomers necessary to ensure Maine’s best days lie ahead

Maine must open doors to immigration.
Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr/Creative Commons license 2.0 | https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Maine often looks to New Hampshire for inspiration. The Granite State’s lack of sales and income taxes is frequent fodder for political and economic development debates in Augusta. But population was one area in which Maine long had the upper hand. For more than two centuries, more people lived in Maine than New Hampshire.

No more, according to new census data. The latest figures show New Hampshire with about 1,280 more people than Maine.

While this development has gotten a lot of attention, the long-term trend of Maine’s population stagnation is what is truly alarming. For the last five years, Maine’s population has barely budged. New Hampshire’s grew a little.

The real story is what has happened in the rest of the country, especially the southwest and west, as Maine largely stood still.

Since 1890, the population of California has grown 270 percent; Washington’s population has grown by more than 200 percent. Utah has grown 335 percent. Maine has grown just 45 percent.

Not only is Maine’s population not growing, Maine is the oldest state in the nation. This is especially problematic for economic development. More than half of Maine’s workforce will reach retirement age in the next 20 years. The economy will require more than 400,000 workers just to replace the retirees. But only 300,000 Mainers are currently under the age of 20. That’s the group expected to replace those aging out of the workforce. By simple math, that means Maine is already 100,000 workers short of filling a looming workforce gap.

Maine needs more people, especially younger, working-age people.

“Without positive natural change, Maine will depend on net in-migration to maintain our population and workforce,” the Maine Department of Labor wrote in its report “ Maine Workforce Outlook 2012-2022.” “In the recent recovery, net-migration to and from Maine has remained near zero. That trend must be reversed to maintain the size of our workforce.”

This phenomenon was well chronicled in the BDN’s recent three-part series on growing the state’s economy. The first installment highlighted the need to grow Maine’s workforce by attracting immigrants, both from other parts of the world and the country.

Many readers objected to this conclusion, arguing that Maine needs to focus on taking care of its own people; the state can’t afford more immigrants, many argued. The desire to help locals is understandable, but Maine can — and must — continue to do this while welcoming newcomers, too. In fact, attracting newcomers will ultimately help those who already live here.

An aging, shrinking workforce can’t draw businesses to Maine, and it limits the growth of businesses that are already here and trying to grow. To draw businesses and jobs and help Maine businesses flourish, the state needs more people. Since they aren’t being born here, they must come from somewhere else.

Two-thirds of those living in Maine were born in the state. Most of the rest moved here from other states; only 4 percent were born in other countries.

Those living in Maine who weren’t born here have more education — an asset Maine needs in its newcomers. Forty percent of Maine’s residents who weren’t born in the state have a bachelor’s degree, twice the rate of natives, according to a New York Times analysis of state-to-state migration. More than 50 percent of immigrants in Maine have a bachelor’s degree. And immigrants are much younger — 27 on average — than the state’s overall population.

If you are a pessimist, it is easy to believe that Maine’s best days are behind it. But with a more welcoming attitude, Maine can grow and thrive in coming years.

source: BDN