Hardly any jobs will be added to Maine’s economy in the next decade, according to a new report by the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information (LCWRI). The study forecasts that there will be just 94 more jobs in 2026 than 2016, an increase from 668,394 to 668,488 jobs. The largest job growth will be in health care-related fields, with an increase of about 5,805 positions. However, other sectors will experience steep losses, including office and administrative support (-4,903), sales and related occupations (-2,787) and production (- 2,090). The LCWRI report predicts that there will also be job losses in construction and extraction (- 488), transportation and material moving (- 406) and education-related fields (-376), as well as arts, design, entertainment, sports and media (-299).

Overall, Maine’s population is projected to increase by 50,000 people, but it will lose population in every age range except 25 to 35 (+ 5,300) and over 65 (+ 113,000). The largest population decrease is projected to be in the 45-to-54 age range, which the study predicts will lose 44,700 people, marking a 22.5-percent drop. LCWRI finds that workforce participation will increase across every age spectrum, but it will slightly decline overall due to the number of Mainers who will be retiring. It projects that nearly every age group will lose workers, but the sheer number of people over 65 remaining in the workforce helps to offset some of the losses. The report estimates that there will be 113,000 more people over the age of 65 still working in 2026, an increase of 74 percent since 2016.

The study’s authors noted that while the decline in birth rates is not unique to Maine, the trend has been especially sharp in northern New England, to the point where there are more people in their 50s and 60s than young people who will age into the workforce. As a result, Maine is more and more dependent on in-migration from other states and overseas to maintain the labor supply. The LCWRI researchers stated that improved labor market conditions contributed to a “significant uptick in net migration to the state in 2016 and 2017 after an eight-year period of the lowest net migration since the 1960s.” The study forecasts that job numbers will rise modestly in the early part of the decade and peak before 2026.

“To maintain our workforce, it will be increasingly imperative that we pursue policies and initiatives that reduce barriers to employment, and that encourage young people to stay or to move here,” it stated. “If we do not, the challenges employers already face attracting staff will increase.”