AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – According to an economist who specializes in workforce development, Maine needs to find ways to capitalize on its high percentage of older adults and the growing number who are staying in the workforce longer.
John Dorrer of the Boston-based organization Jobs for the Future said Tuesday that with an increase in those ages 55 and older in the labor market, the state will need to ensure these workers have the skills and education to remain active participants in Maine’s economy.
“We need to stop thinking that life stops at 62 or stops at 65,” he told a special panel of Maine lawmakers, education and business leaders. “A lot of things have changed that permit people to do a lot more than they’ve been able to do … I say we’ve got a lot more labor supply than we are currently, in our reporting systems, crediting.”
Maine has the nation’s highest rate of baby boomers at more than 29 percent, according to recent census data. And economists have warned that Maine could lose thousands of jobs over the next several decades unless it begins attracting young workers.
The economic challenges posed by the state’s aging population spurred Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves of North Berwick to create the panel. But Eves said Tuesday that while Maine’s graying population is often viewed as a negative, it’s clear it can also be an asset.