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Labor shortages and the impacts of COVID continue to challenge Maine businesses, report says

CORRECTION Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
A sign at the entrance to a Starbucks coffee shop announces an earlier-than-usual closing time due to a staffing shortage as the COVID pandemic continues to cause labor problems, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in South Portland, Maine.

A new report says that says that labor shortages and the impacts of COVID-19 continue to pose a challenge for businesses and communities across Maine.

Those are among the takeaways from the latest annual "Measures of Growth" report from the Maine Economic Growth Council, measuring a wide range indicators, from water quality and greenhouse gas emissions to its GDP and educational success.

Yellow Light Breen is the CEO of the Maine Development Foundation, which administered the report. He said Maine's economy is showing some encouraging signs, but that retirements from an aging workforce are leading to a crisis that could limit growth moving forward.

"We can do some things to keep older workers engaged longer. But we also have to build the pipeline and recognize that, we'll have to do more with less. And that puts the pressure on, making sure our workers are well trained and well supported for that," Breen said.

Breen says the long-term forecast will depend on bringing in more workers from other states and countries, and improving the skills of the existing workforce.

The latest report also highlights environmental progress, such as Maine's 2% reduction greenhouse gas emissions from 2018 to 2019.