Finding entry-level workers is Maine’s business community’s highest current priority, according to a report released Thursday, which also lists workforce housing and diversity in the workplace as emerging concerns.

“Making Maine Work: Critical Investments for the Maine Economy,” a collaboration of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Maine Development Foundation, and Educate Maine, outlines economic priorities and policy recommendations leading into the gubernatorial election in November. The report, which relies on surveys of businesses, is the eighth in a series that began in 2010.

This year, the shortage of entry-level workers was followed closely by high energy costs, the need for technical workers, and the need for workforce housing. The 2010 report identified the cost of doing business and state regulations as high-ranking concerns; in 2018, broadband availability, workforce shortages and the need for an economic strategy were priorities. 

In all, the report outlines six goals and recommendations on how to achieve them. It also calls for implementation of the Maine Economic Development Strategy 2020-29, with annual reports on progress and updates to the plan, and for creation of an energy strategy and an investment plan in energy.

To expand Maine’s workforce at all levels, it recommends encouraging more Mainers to participate in the labor force; helping workers develop new skills; creating more diverse, welcoming workplaces; and attracting newcomers to live and work in Maine.

The need for workers has been a consistent concern, but the need for highly skilled workers was ranked higher in previous years. Healthcare costs and broadband access remain concerns while diversity in the workplace, specifically attracting immigrants and minorities, emerged as a new priority. This reflects the state’s increased diversity, with people of color now making up 9 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Census. 


To increase investment in innovation, the report calls for spending more on research and development, promoting value-added industry growth, supporting business efforts to streamline processes and create higher-paying jobs, and investing more in broadband.

To improve health outcomes and limit health care cost inflation, it recommends investing in public health infrastructure, adopting the recommendations of the Maine Obesity Advisory Council and the Maine Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Council, expanding the healthcare workforce, investing in community residential mental health programs and services, promoting efficiencies in healthcare and working to lower health insurance costs by reducing shifts in costs to the insured.

To expand housing stock to meet demand, the report recommends establishing goals for the construction of new housing at every price level and vigorously implementing supportive policies and incentives.

In response to the priorities identified in the report, the LePage campaign issued the following statement:

“Governor LePage shares the concerns of our job creators about the economy, especially the high cost of electricity, gasoline, and the drop in Maine’s work participation rate which is harming our small businesses. He looks forward to addressing these concerns as Maine’s next Governor.”

Gov. Janet Mills could not immediately be reached for comment.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: