It’s no secret that Maine has an aging population. Our state is facing a demographic crisis, and it’s only going to get worse in the years to come.
The median age in Maine is 44, which is six years older than the national average. And according to the most recent census data, we have a higher percentage of people over the age of 65 than any other state in the country and the lowest percentage of people under 18.
This aging population is having a profound impact on our economy. As baby boomers retire, they are leaving behind a workforce that is smaller and less skilled. That puts a strain on businesses and makes it difficult to attract new jobs and investments.
What’s more, Maine continues to lose its young workers with each passing year.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the most significant is that our state has a brain drain. Each year, thousands of young people leave Maine to seek opportunities elsewhere. This “brain drain” costs the state millions of dollars in lost productivity and tax revenue.
The K-12 education system in Maine is failing to make kids college or career ready. It is only slowly coming around to helping students who are not college-bound to train for and find quality foundational jobs. It is not integrated with community colleges, technical schools, and employers to make it easier for students to stay in state after graduation.
So, what can be done about this growing problem?
One way to address our state’s demographic crisis is to focus on attracting young workers back to Maine. The other, of course, is to keep young people from leaving in the first place.
This will require a concerted effort on the part of businesses, state and local leaders, and educational institutions. We need to create an environment that is conducive to young people’s success, and we need to make it clear that Maine is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
But it’s not enough to just attract young workers back to Maine; we also need to retain them once they’re working here. We need to create good-paying jobs and provide pathways for career growth. And we need to invest in our infrastructure and our communities.
Only by taking these steps will we be able to address our state’s demographic crisis and build a strong economy for the future.
The Alliance for Maine is a nonpartisan organization that is working to make Maine a more prosperous state for all of its citizens. We believe that by focusing on attracting and retaining young people, we can help to strengthen our economy and build a brighter future for Maine.
If you care about the future of our state, we hope you will join us in our efforts. We encourage you to sign up for our email newsletter so that you can stay connected to our cause to strengthen Maine’s economy.