A report this week by Staff Writer Donna Perry on the the lives of four former Wausau millworkers one year after the mill first began issuing layoff notices in advance of its closure last June gave us the opportunity to examine some U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics employment data for Maine.

Numbers can never tell the complete story, but they do shed light on the scope of the job losses in the paper industry here in Maine.

In the past seven years the state has lost 4,700 paper-making jobs. For perspective, that’s a town about the size of New Gloucester.

And, since October 2008, the state has shed a total of 5,600 manufacturing jobs, including those at area paper mills.

The information in the employment numbers for Maine is fairly dismal overall and, according to the most recent federal data, the state lost 4,700 nonfarm jobs from October 1999 to October 2009, the most recent data available.

It looks like Maine growth peaked in 2007 and the trajectory since January 2008 to date has been a downward comet.

Nonfarm jobs lost between October 2008 and October 2009 total 19,700 – including paper and other manufacturing jobs. Overall manufacturing employment is down over the long and short term. Between October1999 and October of this year, the state has lost 29,500 manufacturing jobs.

Even Maine’s typically strong tourism sector is feeling the throes of this extra-deep recession and is down 1,100 jobs over the 12-month period from October 2008 to October 2009.

From 1999 to 2009, that sector is among the few that looks to be trending upward with overall employment in the sector up by 1,400 jobs.

The other sector with growth over the decade is government employment, with local, state and federal government jobs up by 4,300 from October 1999 to October 2009.

That sector also has suffered in the recession, with total employment over the 12 months from October 2008 to October 2009 dipping by 2,000 jobs, half of those cut from the state-government sector and the other 1,000 jobs lost at the local and federal levels combined.


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