The Arrival of Demographic Winter in Maine Gets Closer


Last week the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau released new age, sex and race data for July 1, 2009 by state.  The data shows that the arrival of Demographic Winter in Maine is getting closer.

The table below highlights the change in Maine’s population by age cohort.  In previous blogs, see here for example, I have noted that Mainers in the age cohorts “under 18” and “25 to 44” have been shrinking in numbers.  The table shows that between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009, Maine saw a decrease of 4,565 in the “under 18” age cohort and a decrease of 5,797 in the “25 to 44” age cohort.

Additionally, those two age cohorts have been declining in every single year since July 1, 2000.  Cumulatively over those ten years, Maine saw a decrease of 30,077 in the “under 18” age cohort and a decrease of 47,273 in the “25 to 44” age cohort.  The fact that these two age cohorts move together tells us another troubling fact–these are Maine families.  This is likely caused by a combination of lower household formation and the out-migration of families to greener pastures.

More troubling, a new age cohort has gone negative for the first time.  The “18 to 24” age cohort lost 274 people between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009.  This age cohort had been steadily growing until then and is still up 13,826 people since July 1, 2000.  Yet, the change in direction is troubling and one has to wonder if it isn’t a dearth of jobs that is behind the shrinking population.  After all, a large number of folks in this age group are, or will soon be, graduates looking for their first real job.  No jobs may mean they have to look out-of-state to find employment.

Despite the drop in state population between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009 of 1,390 Mainers, the “45 to 64” and “over 65” age cohorts continue to strongly grow.  The combination of the shrinking cohorts of younger Mainers and the growing cohorts of older Mainers means that Maine’s age pyramid continues to invert.  This is unsustainable in the long run and reversing this approaching Demographic Winter is not going to be an easy task . . . folks in Augusta really, really need to start paying attention.