Maine’s economic prosperity primarily came from foundational jobs for generations. In industries such as farming, fishing, forestry, transportation, and manufacturing, Maine’s hard-working citizens created real wealth, produced quality goods, and shipped them to buyers in other states or countries.
As a result, wealth flowed into the state, bringing new opportunities and funding vital government operations. Thanks to the tax dollars supplied by foundational jobs, Maine was able to pay for police, emergency services, good schools, infrastructure like freeways, and much more.
Indeed, foundational jobs were the key to Maine’s success… and they can be again.
Unfortunately, foundational jobs have declined in prevalence across the country, not just in Maine. They’ve gradually yet consistently been replaced with service-related jobs, many of which are lower-skill, lower-wage jobs.
This economic shift has had numerous effects on Maine’s economy and its people. As foundational jobs decreased, fewer dollars were spent in our communities and less tax revenue was available to support state and local government services. This created a negative cycle: fewer job opportunities meant workers – especially young workers – were leaving the state looking for better opportunities, which drained more money out of Maine. This is much of the reason Maine has the highest percentage of people over 65 in the country and the lowest percentage of people under 18.
It’s up to us to halt the economic degradation we’ve seen and settled with for too long. Instead, we should work toward driving investment, innovation and industry in our state once again. By creating favorable conditions for small businesses and foundational jobs in Maine, we’ll attract high skilled workers and young people, improve tax income, and reignite the state economy.