As the pandemic lingers, the employment problem gets worse and worse and worse...but in Maine, it's not just Covid causing the employment problem.


Have you noticed that your favorite mom-and-pop store isn't open like it once was? The hours have been cut back or for some, they aren't open as many days. That's because it is nearly impossible for some places to get employees. Now it's Sam's Italian in Freeport closing their doors for good due to a lack of workers.

William Ridgell
William Ridgell

But it's not a problem that is new to Maine. According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy:

These concerns are far from new, however, and employers have been worried about a shrinking labor force in Maine for at least the past decade. For example, a 2018 survey of Maine employers found that three of their five most important issues related to worker availability. The Maine Department of Labor has been warning of a shortage of workers as far back as 2010 in its official population and employment projections.

it's easy to blame the Unemployment Insurance and extended benefits because of Covid, but once again the MCEP says, not so fast...

A recent study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco finds that the higher benefits and extended eligibility period are only having a very small impact on the labor supply.

So then what is it? Why are some of my favorite places closing their doors? It's a perfect storm of a bunch of things - but mostly, Maine's workforce is moving out of the state faster than it's moving into the state. Plus, there are two very important issues that have been in Maine long before the pandemic hit our state. The cost of childcare and health insurance.

When will it get back to normal? It's a great question with no easy answer. In the meantime, we just gotta all hang in there.



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