Maine’s economic prosperity will depend on increasing the workforce by 65,000 by 2020, according to a report from the Maine Development Foundation (MDF).
Two basic strategies are listed for increasing the workforce:
1) Increase participation in the workforce among the existing population in Maine, and
2) Attract people from outside the state to come live and work in Maine.
The report lists several categories of workers and the number of people needed for each of these strategies.
Increasing participation by 33,000 can be accomplished by:
· People with disabilities (add 10,000 to the workforce by 2020)
· Seniors age 65 and older not currently working (add 12,000 more workers)
· Disengaged youth (move 6,000 into the workforce)
· Veterans (add 5,000 new workers)
Attracting 32,000 new people to the workforce can be accomplished by:
· Young people (add 20,000 more workers by 2020)
· Foreign workers (add 12,000 more workers from abroad)
Five recommendations are suggested for achieving these goals:
1) Adopt measurable workforce growth goals for Maine.
2) Build upon the work of the current legislature’s Committee on Maine’s Workforce & Economic Future to establish an ongoing committee of state policy leaders and private sector interests.
3) Create a private sector Maine Marketing Commission and elevate state marketing efforts.
4) Promote strategies to build the workforce for each of the groups mentioned in the report.
5) Study the lessons from Lewiston, Auburn, and Portland in resettling refugees and create a resource that Maine municipalities can use to prepare for and benefit from new residents.
“Instead of losing 20,000 workers, we would gain 45,000. Instead of struggling with the effects of a diminishing workforce, we would be gaining on the competition,” states the report.
Recent reports on Maine’s economic future indicate that an aging population, a surge of Baby Boomer retirements, and inadequate number of younger people will increasingly hamper growth.
NFIB expects the report will receive attention in 2014 from candidates for governor and the legislature. However, it will take a strong pro-business attitude in Augusta to shape policies in a way that makes Maine attractive to new businesses, jobs, and workers. Special interests that pursue more entitlement spending, more regulation of business, and higher labor costs will have to get onboard with growing the labor force and increasing jobs; otherwise, Maine will fall short of the goals in this report and fall behind other states economically.
“Making Maine Work: Growing Maine’s Workforce” is the fourth of a series of reports MDF is producing for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.