Labor Force Participation (New)

-2

In 2020, 60.5% of Maine adults were in the labor force, down 2 percentage points.

Unfavorable 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

Overview

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.

Public health measures temporarily closed some businesses, and remote work/learning left many families scrambling for childcare. Many individuals stopped working or looking for work. Federal stimulus measures allowed many to avoid the risk of working in offices or public spaces during a pandemic. Average annual employment fell 41,000 (6% of the statewide total). All sectors experienced job losses. The worst-hit sectors where leisure and hospitality, retail trade, 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

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics