Jobs forecast shows fall in manufacturing, growth in health care work in Maine

0

PORTLAND — In the Maine of 10 years from now, jobs making things, moving things and selling things are expected to decline as jobs in health care, education and hospitality industries increase.

That doesn’t necessarily mean work making things will dry up, as the bulk of job openings will be to replace people retiring, but a report from the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research and Information does reveal which industries are becoming a bigger part of the state’s economy and what training most of new jobs will require.

The 10-year projection lays out how the department of labor expects the state’s workforce to change by 2022, when it estimates the total number of payroll jobs will have risen 2.3 percent.

Within that slight increase, the nature of the most in-demand work is changing, the report found. Characteristics desired for employees in growing occupations are different than industries in decline, the report found, with growing industries preferring skills such as critical thinking, decision making and information processing over skills such as operating machinery, inspecting equipment and following instructions.

Advertisement

“The nature of work increasingly demands higher levels of literacy and more sophisticated technology competencies,” the report states, noting that 68 of the 100 fastest-growing occupations will require some kind of degree or credential after high school.

Those findings are in line with a long-term decline in manufacturing jobs and other goods-producing sectors.

In 1950, 44 percent of Maine jobs were in an industry that made physical things. By 2000, that fell to 18 percent, and it’s projected to be just 13 percent by 2022. That shift is projected to continue, posing challenges for cities and towns built around paper or textile mills and shoe manufacturers.

“Large brick buildings in the center of some cities attest to the prominence those industries once had as the economic backbone of an entire region,” the report states. “Today some of those buildings have been torn down, others stand empty, while others have been redeveloped for housing, retail, medical, and other uses. The redeveloped uses of many of those buildings symbolize the major changes our economy has undergone in just a few decades.”

The largest example is health care. From 1982 to 2012, health care employment grew to 101,000 from 36,000. Manufacturing employment dropped to about 50,000 from 109,000 during that time.

Looking ahead, only the four sectors of health care, professional and business services, hospitality and education services are projected in 2022 to have more jobs than in 2008. Against 2008, manufacturing and construction will have the steepest losses, with government jobs also declining.

But job openings will depend on a few different dynamics, such as turnover in a particular industry.

The report projects only one of every seven job openings between 2012 and 2022 will come from growth in an industry. That is, the state will gain about 2,600 jobs from business growth and expansion, compared with 15,200 jobs to replace current workers.

That trend means that while industries such as manufacturing aren’t growing, “ there will still be substantial numbers of openings each year” for manufacturing-related jobs because about 28 percent of that workforce was more than 55 years old in 2012.

The report projects a broader trend of population decline that will to lead to a slight drop in the total labor force by 2022.

In 2012, the report said there was a pool of about 411,000 Mainers between the ages of 45 and 64 and 302,000 residents under the age of 20, but the report forecast that people older than 55 would start staying in the workforce longer, for reasons ranging from financial need to changing norms about work and retirement.

If swapping out that workforce immediately, there would be a shortage of 109,000 workers in Maine tomorrow, but the trend of people working later into their lives and opportunities for employers to increase efficiency and need fewer workers could reduce that gap over the next decade.

But the report projects the state will need to attract younger workers from outside the state, as well, to meet workforce demands.

Advertisement
SHARE