Thousands needed to sustain Maine’s population in future

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — More people are migrating to Maine than leaving the state thanks in part to older millennials, according to figures shared Friday by the Maine Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission.

While Maine had a net loss of roughly 1,000 young adults between the ages of 20 and 24 last year, the state also had a net gain of 4,200 individuals between the ages of 25 and 34.

That momentum of people moving to the state will need to continue at a pace of about 3,000 people a year to offset declining birth rates, according to state economist Amanda Rector.

“We still have this incredible population of baby boomers that are aging and pulling the median age up, and not contributing in terms of births,” Rector said at the commission’s Friday meeting.

Rector projected the state’s population will grow by 0.6 percent, adding an additional 7,000 people, between 2016 and 2036. Maine’s population was 1.3 million in 2016. That’s compared with Rector’s previous projection that Maine’s population would decrease by 1.8 percent between 2014 and 2034.

Maine saw 6,827 more people moving to the state than leaving last year, according to Census figures discussed by the Maine Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission Friday. Thirteen out of Maine’s 16 counties saw positive net migration, while fewer people moved to than left Aroostook County, Franklin County and Piscataquis County last year.

Of those individuals, about 4,200 — or over 60 percent— were between the age of 25 and 34. Maine ended up gaining 900 people over the age of 70, including seniors who may have moved to Florida or Arizona and returned to the state, according to chief economist Glenn Mills.

Meanwhile, Maine lost more than 1,400 minors and young people between the ages of 20 and 24 who moved out the state. The state’s foreign-born population dropped from 3.8 to 3.4 percent between 2016 and 2017.

“We have an outflow of kids who go away for college, and an in-flow of people in their 30s,” Mills said.

Between 2031 and 2036, about 48,000 more people a year will need to come to the state to sustain its population, according to Rector. And she said thousands more individuals will be needed to sustain Maine’s workforce, which hasn’t changed much over the last decade.

A recent Department of Labor report estimated Maine would have a net growth of just 94 jobs between 2016 and 2026. That report will be updated in the coming year, Rector said.

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