Maine’s Population Shrinking and Aging


Recently the U.S. Census Bureau released their updated intercensal state population estimates by age and race. These new estimates account for the new population counts as determined by the 2010 population census. There are two items that I found of interest in the new data.

First, I was surprised that the overall population, as shown in the first chart below, has been falling since 2008. This is surprising because the 2010 census found that there were more people in Maine than what they had estimated previously. As such, I had figured the drop in population shown previously would disappear–it didn’t. In 2008, Maine had 1,330,509 people which has fallen to 1,327,567 people.

Also shown in the first chart is the median age which is soaring. In 2000 the median age was 38.7 years but has increased by 11 percent to 42.8 years in 2010.

Chart Showing Maine Population from 2000 to 2010

This leads to the second surprise in the data which is the composition of Maine’s population by age cohort as shown in the second chart below. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of Mainers under the age of 18 dropped by 9 percent to 273,813 from 301,085. At the same time, the number of Mainers over the age of 65 increased by 15 percent to 211,366 from 184,010. At this rate it won’t be long before Mainers over the age of 65 outnumbers those under the age of 18.

The chart also shows the change in population of Mainers between the age of 18 and 64. While this cohort grew by 6 percent overall, it has been falling since 2008–mirroring the overall population trend. This is a result of baby boomers moving into the “65 and over” category as well as the likely out-migration of working-age folks. For instance, Maine’s construction industry has lost over 7,000 jobs and many of those unemployed are having to move out-of-state to find greener pastures (based on industry testimony at my last Maine Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission meeting).

Chart Showing Maine Population by Age Cohort from 2000 to 2010

Overall, this is a very disturbing picture of Maine’s demographics. Maine’s current and future workforce is both shrinking and aging which will create formidable headwinds in the effort to generate sustainable economic growth.