Friday, January 18, 2008

Aging workforce a concern for Maine

The issue of Maine's aging workforce will affect the state's long-term economic plans, unless the issue is addressed. How can the state attract new businesses and create jobs, if we don't have the labor pool we need to take care of our current employers?

I had an interesting article given to me that appeared in last Sunday's Maine Sunday Telegram.

Charles Lawton, a senior economist for Planning Decisions, a public policy and research firm in South Portland, published an article about the implications of Maine's aging population.

Aging population requires redefining 'job'
Maine Sunday Telegram/January 13, 2007

Most of the attention to jobs in Maine in recent months has been focused on the demand side. How can we create more jobs? Will there be a recession? Will the subprime credit mess spread beyond finance, housing and construction?

This attention is certainly warranted, but in the long run we are likely to see as much of a problem from the supply side. Where will we find the people to fill the jobs we have (or could have)? How can we grow and attract business if we can't demonstrate an expanding labor market? As with most issues in economics, job growth is a double-edged sword, a vicious or virtuous circle.

Here's the paradox. The Maine Department of Labor's Employment Outlook to 2014 projects job growth of approximately 7 percent between 2004 and 2014. Given likely national industrial growth trends and Maine's historical share of those industries, we could expect to see approximately 48,000 more jobs over the coming decade. But -- given our likely population growth and historic patterns of labor force participation by age group -- the department, in another report, projects labor force growth over the same period of just under 28,000.

Read the rest here.

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