AUGUSTA (AP) – State budget, housing and transportation priorities all will need to be re-examined as Maine gets more people of retirement age, state Economist Laurie Lachance said.

But a shift in priorities does not translate into a drain on revenues caused by the aging population, Lachance and other experts say.

Maine has the third-oldest population among the states, behind only West Virginia and Florida. U.S. Census data also show that Maine’s population is getting older.

“I’ve been warning people that, by the year 2025, fully 21 percent of our population will be over the age of 65,” she said.

That’s likely to bring about a change in public priorities, Lachance said, with demands for funds shifting from education and toward human services.

Statewide, Maine’s median age is 38.6. It means there are as many people above 38.6 as below it in the state.

Meanwhile, the State Planning Office says several midcoast towns are seeing more and more retirees moving in from out of state. In Camden, 23 percent of the population is over 65, and in Damariscotta, it’s 30 percent.

Every state will see a rise in the number of retirees as the baby boomers shift from a full-time to part-time work, look for hobbies or volunteer their time in their communities, according to Edwin Walker, deputy assistant secretary for planning and programs at the federal Administration on Aging.

“We know that will cause our agencies in the public sector and our nation as a whole to face tremendous challenges in responding to the needs that this unprecedentedly large older population will have,” he said.

Elderly are not a financial liability to the state, said Lenard Kaye, director of the University of Maine System’s Center on Aging.

If the state is ready for a swing to an older population, it can take advantage of plentiful assets offered by older people, he said.

Wealthy out-of-staters who retire in Maine bring with them the money needed to pay for health care costs and a willingness to volunteer in the community, say Lachance and Paul Saucier, a University of Southern Maine health care analyst.

State Planning Office figures show most older adults who move here from away are well above poverty level. The state became a retirement destination in the 1970s.


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