Maine’s Growing Workforce Problem

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mraa op-ed

Maine is the nation’s oldest state, and it’s just getting older.

An op-ed in the Bangor Daily News — penned by Adam Fortier-Brown, government relations manager for the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, and his friend Lee Jackson, who serves on the Fairfax County (Va.) Board of Supervisors — discussing the workforce conundrum faced by the state.

“Our state is the oldest in the nation and only getting older,” wrote the two in the op-ed. “Maine lags behind its closest peers in New England with a higher cost of living than New Hampshire and Vermont and median household income below the national average.”

The state’s public and private universities work to attract talent from out of the state, they said, but Maine can’t retain young skilled workers that are critical to the economy — the boating industry is key in Maine and the state, like most, faces workforce shortages.

Now, with a pandemic that has more high earners working from home than ever, Maine should take steps like increased broadband and a more competitive tax code to lure those individuals to the state, they wrote.

“As much as we love Maine and would have preferred to stay, both of us were forced to leave Maine to continue to grow within our career fields and afford to pay back our student loans,” they wrote.

‘This is a story all too common in our generation, but it does not have to continue,” they said. “With common-sense changes and smart investments in housing, digital infrastructure and the tax code, Maine can position itself to retain young Mainers and attract a new generation to invest in and grow our communities.”