Maine seeing steady stream of newcomers, but still lacks workforce needed to fill open jobs
Despite a steady increase in the number of people moving here, Maine still lacks a qualified workforce needed to fill tens of thousands of open jobs.
Maine saw a nearly 9% bump in the number of people moving into the state last year, and an 8% increase in newcomers in 2021.
That's according to a first-of-its kind analysis from the new Maine Economic and Workforce Advancement Research Institute based out of the University of Maine. The pilot institute was created by the Legislature back in 2021.
Economics professor Andrew Crawley said he initially thought the in-migration was a singular event, but told state lawmakers earlier this week that there are signs it may be a trend. Last year, most of Maine's newcomers were young, between the ages of 18 and 34.
But data show the overall size Maine's participating workforce is relatively flat, and has dipped slightly within the last three years.
"The underlying trends, which go back further, show that the labor force has not dramatically increased. So it might speak to whether people are coming here to take work, or whether some people are bringing jobs with them, remote work activity."
Maine had more than 134,000 job vacancies last year, the highest number in a decade.
Job openings with no qualifications listed have fallen over the last five years, according to the analysis. At the same time, job openings that require a bachelor's degree have jumped.
"A huge number of job vacancies doesn't immediately mean that we have the labor force to be able to fill all those job vacancies, and at a bigger picture, fill them immediately," Crawley said.
With more than 22,000 vacancies, Maine's healthcare industry has the highest of any other sector, followed by retail and manufacturing. Those job openings are taking longer to fill as well, Crawley said.