In response to this column, I am sometimes called a rose-colored-glasses, Pollyannaish optimist – and sometimes a crotchety, cynical, angry old pessimist.

I have come to think that these varied reactions reflect less about me than about the welcome or unwelcome nature of the message I bring from the data I have examined. In that vein, I bring today some data that I think offer a glint of optimistic spring sunshine to our otherwise bleak, winterish landscape.

According to census population estimates, Maine may have turned an important corner in 2014. Between April 1, 2010, (the last decennial census) and July 1, 2014, (the most recent census estimate), Maine’s population increased by 1,728 people. This growth was accounted for entirely by migration. Our natural increase – births minus deaths – was negative (1,037 more Mainers died than were born over this period). But our net migration was positive: 2,768 more people came to Maine than left. And, drilling a little deeper, that net in-migration number is the result of two opposite flows. Maine actually lost 2,749 people who moved away to other states but gained 5,517 people who moved here from other countries. In essence, the entirety of our population growth between 2000 and 2010 was accounted for by international immigrants.

But here, at least to my mind, is the good news. If we change our focus from the entire 2000-to-2014 period to just the last year – the 2013 to 2014 period – we see an important turnaround. As before, we still saw more deaths than births (creating a loss of 475 people), and we still saw the bulk of our growth from international immigrants (a gain of 1,377 people). But we also saw a growth of 531 people from domestic in-migration. Instead of losing thousands of people to other states, we saw more people move here than leave here.

Yes, these are just estimates. There are no guards at the border taking names. These are just statistical manipulations. Next year may be different. But the possibility is heartening. Between 2012 and 2013, the census says that we lost a net total of 1,423 Mainers to other states, but between 2013 and 2014, we gained 531 more domestic immigrants. That’s a turnaround of nearly 2,000 people, like adding a whole new Palmyra to the state. This might be a sign – like crocus buds and daffodils appearing from once frozen soil – that bears watching.

Who are these new domestic immigrants? More white-haired baby boomers transplanting themselves to Maine’s soon to be more hospitable climate? Recent grads who moved away for school or to start careers enticed back home by a recovering economy? Skilled workers filling jobs that now offer salaries in Maine that can compete with those in the rest of the country?

Who knows? We’ll have to wait and see. But who ever they are, we should welcome them, get to know them and encourage them to spread the word that Maine is as good a place to come to live as it is to visit.

Charles Lawton is chief economist for Planning Decisions Inc. He can be contacted at:

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