Maine’s unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent in January (“Maine’s falling unemployment rate isn’t all good, economist says,” March 26), is lower than the rest of New England and has been consistently lower than the national average.

And yet, seemingly, this is bad news, because a low unemployment rate represents a tight labor market, discouraging employers from expanding or relocating to Maine (so says economist Charles Colgan).

Meanwhile, our political leaders constantly tell us how important it is to attract more jobs. But if we attract more jobs, won’t the unemployment rate drop even further? Won’t the labor market get tighter? Why attract more jobs when, as we have been told again and again, we don’t have enough workers as it is?

And if Maine’s labor pool isn’t expanding, employers will have to pay higher wages to attract more workers.

Haven’t we been hearing about how the average income in Maine is lower than the rest of New England and we need higher-paying jobs? Wouldn’t this tight labor market then benefit the average Mainer (and also result in an increase in income tax revenue)? Do we really want Maine to be seen as a source of cheap labor?

And what about immigrants? Are they the scourge that we have been led to believe they are, taking jobs from hardworking Americans and straining already stressed social services?


Or are they the potential expanding labor force that Charles Colgan says Maine so desperately needs? After all, the vigor of this country has always depended on an influx of immigrant labor.

If, in fact, a thriving Maine economy depends on a constantly expanding labor force and a relentless influx of new businesses, then what do we become? New Jersey?

Kurt Woltersdorf



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