PORTLAND — In the last five days, three pieces of good economic news have added some post-Christmas cheer to Maine’s economy.

L.L. Bean announced that it will add 125 jobs at its factory in Brunswick because Bean boot sales have nearly tripled in the last four years.

The American Bureau of Shipbuilding, a high-tech nonprofit that certifies the seaworthiness of commercial ships, announced that it will add 16 jobs at its Brunswick location.

And Katahdin Cedar Log Homes, in Aroostook County, announced that it has landed a major contract with a Chinese real estate development company, which could make Katahdin millions.

The Maine company will supply cedar log home kits to the Chinese company for a new lakeside development in southwest China, where buyers will purchase the cedar log homes for $375,000 apiece.

Charles Colgan, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, said, “It’s way too early to tell if these items mean anything in the long term.”

But entities that export goods, like Katahdin Cedar Log Homes and Maine fishermen, can expect a strong 2012, Colgan said.

“The U.S. dollar has significantly weakened, which makes our products more competitive internationally,” said Colgan, chairman of the Maine Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission.

In addition to exporters, Colgan said he expects the health care industry, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality industries to add jobs in 2012. But government and retailers will continue to shed jobs, as they have for months, he said.

That could lead to only a small gain in total jobs, Colgan said.

In November, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent, the lowest it has been since December 2008, according to the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information.

The United States as a whole added at least 100,000 jobs for five consecutive months, the first time that has happened since April 2006.

Jason Singer can be contacted at 791-6437 or at:

[email protected]


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