Sometimes you just have to spell it out clearly.

Point number one: Last summer, in its presentation to the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, representatives from the Maine Department of Labor said, “Our advancing age structure will seriously constrain labor force and job growth.” In response to the commission’s upward adjustment of estimated job growth in Maine because of the accelerating national economic recovery, it concluded by saying, “This rate of growth (meaning the commission’s new estimate) is not sustainable without significant in-migration.”

In essence, the labor market analysts were telling the forecasters, “You can assume all the job growth you want, but unless we get more people to come to Maine to fill those jobs, they’ll remain nothing but gleams in your eyes and won’t do a whit to increase tax revenues.”

Point number two: Between 2000 and 2013, census data showed that the population of Maine people who self-classified as “white” increased by 2 percent; the population that classified itself as being of “one race” other than white increased by 53 percent; and the population that classified itself as being “multi-racial” increased by 90 percent. Total growth in the first category – the “whites” – amounted to 28,033. Total growth in the other two categories – the long, multi-hued list of “non-whites” – amounted to 25,364. In essence 2 percent of our population has accounted for nearly 50 percent of our population growth over the past decade and a half.

Point number three: Flash forward to spring 2015 in Augusta. What is task number one? Building a budget constrained by below average (compared both to the nation as a whole and to Maine’s potential) employment growth. And what is building block number one? Cutting services for immigrants.

Cue heel of hand slapping forehead. This is not just shooting yourself in the foot. It is shooting yourself in the foot while drilling your head further and further into the sand.

Maine desperately needs immigrants, immigrants of all shapes, sizes, ages, colors and points of origin. The best way to balance our budget is to grow revenue. And the best way to grow revenue is to make every possible effort to engage the fastest growing segments of our population in the process of making a living.

I have said in this space before that Maine is in the midst of a demographic tsunami. A tsunami is a natural disaster. We don’t respond to disasters with business as usual. We suspend ordinary procedures and cut to the chase. We connect the people who can solve the problems and get them to the most critical places. Our economy is facing a natural disaster.

We need to get our educators and our employers into the field to assist our immigrants in getting to their feet and into the process of making their way in their new home. We have no more important task, and we shouldn’t wait to begin it.

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

[email protected]