Maine’s Demographic Crunch

Maine’s population has peaked at 1.33 million and is expected to stay there through 2030.

But could Maine eventually see a population decrease?

The Portland Press Herald reported recently that between 2010 and 2013, 97,233 Mainers left the state while 95,223 moved into Maine – a net loss of 2,000 people.

This wouldn’t matter if Maine had a high enough birthrate. But the Census Bureau says Maine’s population was flat during the same time frame.

Even though states like Florida have a higher percentage of senior citizens, Maine’s lack of young people makes it the oldest state in the nation with a median age of 43.5 years old.

And the loss of young adults means the loss of two generations because their children will be born somewhere else.

This is a problem because the proportion of workers to retirees will be cut in half when Baby Boomers retire. With only two workers for every retiree, Maine is going to see an increased need for government funded services while fewer young people to start businesses tightens tax revenues.

Maine is a Baby Boomer state. Right now the population bubble is people in their 50s. But the Census Bureau’s graph comparing 2000 to 2030 shows the baby bust known as Generation X (who in 2030 will be in their 50s) looking like a dent between Boomers and Millennials. Meanwhile, the population of 20-something Mainers in 2030 (people who are now in elementary school) will be smaller than even Generation X.

This makes me wonder what will happen to Maine’s population in the mid to late 21st century when Baby Boomers are no longer with us and the number of young adults isn’t even close to replacement level.

Especially for northern Maine. The long standing migration pattern to southern Maine means that even if Maine’s overall population doesn’t decrease significantly, the population of northern Maine could still plummet.

The state’s projections anticipate continued growth in southern Maine, as well as some parts of mid-coast and central Maine. But the growth isn’t expected to happen in cities like Portland or Lewiston/Auburn. Instead, growth will be in the suburbs.

Meanwhile, some northern and eastern counties are expected to see double digit population decreases.

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Author: Dave DuBay

Dave is a social worker from Phoenix, Arizona. He blogs at thepaintedporch.net. He's also at twitter.com/Dave_DuBay.

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