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Report: Fewer ‘prime working age’ adults in Maine working now than 2020

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(The Center Square) – The number of working Maine adults aged 25 to 54 has declined since the pandemic’s onset, according to a recently released report.

Analysts with Pew Charitable Trusts, a nonprofit public policy organization, stacked up states’ working-age employment rates from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2023.

In the report – authored by Pew researchers Joanna Biernacka-Lievestro, John Hamman, and Page Forrest – 24 states were found to have lagging employment rates in what has been described as the “prime working age” cohort of the labor market.

With a 1.8% decrease in the three-year comparison, Maine was among the half of the country that has been in decline.

Explaining the basis for the report and its findings, Biernacka-Lievestro, Hamman, and Forrest said a diminished labor market could have several negative consequences.

“Changes in employment rates can affect both sides of a state’s budget ledger,” the report states. “More people without jobs typically translates into higher demand for government services and reduced tax revenues.”

In all age groups, Maine is outperforming the national unemployment rate, based on statistics from state officials.

Data from the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information reveals the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May – the most recent reporting period available – was 2.4%. Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in that same period was 3.7%.

Labor participation within the state has remained steady over the past six months. From December to February, the participation rate stood at 58% and inched up to 58.1% in the period spanning from March to May.

Unemployment figures vary throughout Maine. Year-to-date, Piscataquis County has the highest rate (4.1%), while Sagadahoc and York counties tied for the lowest rate at 2.2%.

In the midpoint of 2023, Maine officials have made several labor-related announcements, including newly named members to the State Workforce Board.

“The work of the State Workforce Board to align our economic and workforce development goals has never been more important to Mainers and our businesses,” Guy Langevin, board chair, said in a statement.

Speaking to the new appointments, Langevin said members “will work to address the pressing needs of both Maine employers and workers, including connecting them with a skilled workforce and high-demand jobs.”

In the Pew study, West Virginia notched the most significant 3-year decline – 5.4%. Utah had the highest gain from 2020 to 2023, increasing its 25- to 54-year-old workforce by 3.8%.

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