March 14, 2013

Maine faces a dilemma as deaths top births

The phenomenon, which could have implications for the economy, is in its second year and verging on a trend.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

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"We're seeing greater demand for services, particularly inquiries about Medicare," she said. "There doesn't seem to be an end in sight."

Despite increasing deaths, the U.S. population as a whole continues to grow slightly. In Maine, the population increased by 648 residents from 2011 to 2012, less than 0.05 percent.

While population growth is stagnant, the data reveals a continued shift away from rural counties and toward metropolitan centers.

The new census figures show that 10 of Maine's 16 counties lost population from July 2011 to July 2012, with Aroostook, Piscataquis and Washington counties losing the most by percentage.

All six counties that had population increases were in southern or coastal Maine, with Cumberland and York counties gaining the most people.

Scott Moody, an economist and the director of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, wrote a blog post about Maine's lackluster population growth, which he called "demographic winter."

"As net natural population growth moves further into negative territory, it will eventually reach a point where even net in-migration will not be able to compensate," Moody wrote.

Rector said population shifts will always be dictated by jobs.

The expansion of technology-related industries has made it easier to do some jobs from anywhere, she said, but some areas of Maine still have infrastructure deficiencies that limit that ability.

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell

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