The task of predicting how many jobs will need to be filled in Maine through 2022 required a combination of hard data and educated guesses, one researcher involved in the project said.

Glenn Mills, chief economist at the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research, said he and economic research analyst Ruth Pease examined three factors when creating the Maine Workforce Outlook 2012 to 2022 report.

First, they looked at the demographics of Maine’s existing workforce. For instance, they determined that in manufacturing, nearly 28 percent of the workforce is over age 55. Therefore, despite anticipated declines in the overall manufacturing workforce, they predicted a substantial number of job openings in manufacturing and related industries.

Second, they looked at employment trends within each industry in Maine. The researchers examined the rate at which each industry was adding or losing jobs and projected that number out into the future. Using that method, they found that “health care and social assistance” is expected to add the greatest number of jobs – more than 13,000 total – through 2022. Manufacturing is expected to shed the most – 4,400 jobs.

“Health care has just steadily increased, and manufacturing has just steadily declined,” Mills said.

Finally, they examined staffing patterns within each industry to determine which job functions were increasing in demand and which were declining. Overall, the researchers found that jobs involving “critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, mathematics, reading comprehension, deductive reasoning, processing information (and) analyzing data,” were on the rise.

Meanwhile, demand has been waning for occupations involving “machinery operation, equipment inspection, tool selection, physical strength, following instructions, manual dexterity (and) clerical functions.”

In the outlook, a high-demand job is defined as having 20 or more openings annually. But for the purpose of this special section, editors have defined it as having more than 50 openings per year, and defined good-paying jobs as ones that earn a minimum of $50,000 annually.

Data sources for the report include historical employment trends, locally generated employment data, U.S. Census and tax filing information. Maine occupation information comes from two surveys of local businesses: the Occupational Employment Statistics program, which tracks hourly earnings by occupation, and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program, which tracks average weekly wages by industry.