What comes first, the work or the workforce?

As AFM has advocated for a strategic plan to support foundational jobs, many folks have pushed back or pointed out that currently Maine has tons of jobs going begging.  How can we need more jobs when we’re not filling the ones we have?

The answer is a bit complicated.  Maine’s economy has been stagnant for years and young people have not been staying.  Between lower Maine wages, fewer job options, and higher costs of living, most young people have decided to leave for greener pastures.  The result has been the well-documented graying of Maine and a decrease in young families and children.

The large number of unfilled jobs is a result of older Mainers retiring and a shrinking of the workforce not a surplus of jobs.  Young people don’t want or aren’t qualified for the jobs being vacated as folks retire, so they continue to leave, the workforce shrinks, and jobs are unfilled.  Maine needs a strategy to support foundational jobs that will attract and retain young people, provide career advancement, build the tax base, and grow our economy from the ground up.  Even with jobs going begging, we need a plan to create more of the right kind of jobs in the 21st Century.