3 Cities to Watch
Source: U. S. Department of Labor
Bill Conroy is editor in chief of Scotsman Guide Media.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or email@example.com.
During and since the Great Recession, Maine’s unemployment rate has
continued to track below the national rate. As of this past December, the
state’s unemployment rate stood at 3.1 percent, a percentage point below
the national unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. During 2009, at the height
of the recession-fueled job losses in the country, Maine’s unemployment
rate peaked at 8. 3 percent, compared the national peak of 10 percent.
Maine’s big challenge going forward is the age of its workforce, which is
the oldest in the country with a median age of 44. Many young people
are leaving the state after college to pursue careers elsewhere, while many
older people choose to retire in the state, according to news reports.
Among the suggestions from business leaders and other experts in the
state to address the problem is to encourage baby boomers to stay in
the workforce longer, retrain younger sidelined workers, welcome more
immigrants and convince more of the 26 million tourists who visit the state
each year to become residents.
One of the fastest-growing food-production sectors globally is aquaculture, which is projected to produce some 62 percent of all food fish by
2030, according to a report published last year by the University of Maine.
Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic food, such as finfish, shellfish and
plants. Maine’s aquaculture industry has a statewide annual economic impact exceeding $137 million and employs some 1, 100 people across more
than 100 businesses, according to the university report.
Maine has long been a supplier of fresh seafood to U.S. markets and is
within a day’s truck ride of some 150 million potential customers. The
state’s aquaculture sector, however, is relatively young, with nearly half of
the 71 respondents to the University of Maine’s study indicating they have
been in business for less than five years.
This city of some 18,000 people had its origins as a trading post on the
Kennebec River and today is the capital of Maine. In prior centuries, the
city was a hub for the wood and paper products and textiles industries,
with the Kennebec River and rail lines serving as major transportation
routes. Today, the city’s major employer is the state of Maine, and Augusta’s private-sector economy is driven more by high-tech and health
care jobs, with major employers such as MaineGeneral Medical Center
and tech employers such as SCI Systems Inc. and Microdyne.
With a population of some 32,000 people, Bangor is a commercial
center for North Central Maine, serving as the area’s largest retail and
business-services center. In the 1830s, however, the city was known as
the lumber capital of the world and boasted some 300 sawmills. Bangor’s Broadway region is still home to many large mansions constructed
during that era. The neighborhood today also is home to internationally
acclaimed horror novelist Stephen King, who based many scenes from
his books and movies on actual sites in Bangor.
This small town of some 10,400 residents located along the Stillwater
River is home to the flagship campus for the University of Maine, the
state’s largest public university with some 11,000 students. The university offers 90 undergraduate majors and academic programs, as well as
85 master’s and 35 doctoral degree programs. Orono also is home to
business enterprises such as Byer Manufacturing, which produces outdoor recreational and camping equipment; Shaw and Tenney, a maker
of wooden oars and paddles; Orono Brewing Co.; and the Maine Technology Industrial Park, as well as the planned Kelley Road Business Park.
Sources: Associated Press, City of Augusta, City of Bangor, Discover Orono, International
Trade Administration, Mainebiz, Maine Farm Bureau, Maine International Trade Center,
Maine Office of Tourism, NAI The Dunham Group, National Association of Manufacturers,
Portland Press Herald, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U. S. Department of Commerce,
University of Maine, Visit Maine.
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