Maine has the fourth oldest population in the United States.

AUGUSTA (AP) – A task force on Maine youth named by the presiding officers of the Legislature held its first meeting at the State House on Friday, focusing on outward migration of the state’s young people.

The Advisory Task Force on Creating A Future for Youth in Maine is being led by House Speaker Patrick Colwell and former House Speaker Elizabeth Mitchell.

Maine has been pegged as the state with the fourth oldest population, and public office holders, among others, have often voiced interest in increasing opportunities to enable young people to stay home.

Colwell, D-Gardiner, and Mitchell, who lives in Vassalboro, both said the task force is not looking to produce a new study but rather measures that might be put before lawmakers next year.

“It’s developing legislation that we can bring forward … and pass,” Colwell said.

“I don’t want to see any more studies. We’ve done them,” Mitchell said.

Those views were echoed by Senate President Beverly Daggett, D-Augusta.

“Maine faces great challenges as our population ages and our children increasingly migrate to other states. Though many important studies have examined this problem, House Speaker Colwell and I have created this task force to turn this information into action,” Daggett said in a prepared statement.

“The loss of our brightest and our best has gone on for too long. It is detrimental to our economy and to the well being of our state,” Daggett said.

Additional meetings are scheduled next month at the University of Southern Maine in Portland and at Brewer High School.

A wrap-up session is expected to be held in November.

According to Deirdre Mageean, associate vice president of research and dean of the graduate school at the University of Maine, Maine lost 50,000 people between the ages of 18 and 31 between 1980 and 2000.

“When you lose young people, you lose them twice over,” Mageean said, citing a combined effect of emigration itself and the subsequent loss of the children of the emigrants.

Recently, Maine has experienced an overall net in-migration, Mageean said.

According to the latest figures, in the five years leading up to the 2000 Census, 107,999 U.S. residents moved to Maine and 104,359 exited the state.

AP-ES-09-05-03 1335EDT

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