Maine Grapples With Too Many Jobs; Too Few Young People
It's not news that Maine's population is the oldest in the country. We're known to be a state filled with retirees and tourists, and not much else. Maine isn't the only state to be grappling with the issue of an aging populace and not enough young people moving to the state to fill jobs, care for the elderly, and keep the state's economy thriving. Vermont and New Hampshire are dealing with the same problem, prompting Vermont to offer financial incentives for moving to the state to work remotely, according to the Boston Globe.
What's the effect of an older population in a state with a thriving tourist economy? Well for one, jobs are opening left and right with no young people to compete for them, the Globe reports.
And while Maine’s unemployment rate hovers near record lows, the shrinking pool of younger labor is pushing many of the state’s 522 cities and towns to brainstorm for ways to fill jobs.
In Augusta, an IT administrator whose salary is $75,000 snow plows on the side for the city. Firefighter-paramedics have received 30% raises to past two years as a recruitment and retainment tool. Library hours have been scaled back, and the waiting list at the city-run day-care center is growing because of a staff shortage. Maine employers are grasping at straws to keep employees in the state and find new ways to draw young people in for more than just their bachelorette parties or summer getaways.
Augusta city manager William Bridgeo says the solution lies beyond keeping the people who were born here.
“We’ve got to bring in more young people. We can’t grow them,” Bridgeo said. “We also have to invite immigrants in. We have to become a far more welcoming society in Maine. I think that’s part of the solution.”