Labor Force Participation


In 2021, 60% of Maine adults were in the labor force - unchanged since 2020 and below the U.S. average.

No significant movement since the last available data

Benchmark: Maine’s labor force participation rate will match or exceed the national average.

Overview Fig. A Fig. B


As Maine’s population ages, and our labor force shrinks, the economic contribution of every individual becomes more apparent. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of Maine’s civilian population over age 15 that is either working or looking for work. It hovered around 63% from 2015 to 2019 but fell to 60.5% in 2020 due to COVID, and remained low in 2021. According to the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL), the advanced age of our population may explain why. While detailed information is not yet available, and recent data are subject to revision, MDOL speculates that two-thirds of those who have left the labor force since the beginning of the pandemic may have retired. It is not yet clear if they will return.

In 2021, the pandemic’s disparate impact across Maine’s industries continued. Jobs in professional and business services, construction, and manufacturing now exceed 2019 levels, but there are still thousands fewer jobs in leisure and hospitality, government, and health care and social assistance.

Potential measures to increase Maine’s labor force participation rate include higher wages, increased childcare access, reduced schedules for older workers, and outreach to new Mainers and people with disabilities, veterans, disengaged youth, and others.


Fig. A

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Labor Force Participation Rate

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fig. B

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Employment Growth in Maine by Selected Sectors, 2019-2021

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics