Speaker Mark Eves Launches Series of Round Table Discussions on Aging And Impact on Maine’s FutureToday Speaker of the House Mark Eves (D-N Berwick) met at the Augusta Civic Center with more than 60 representatives of business, health care, education and workforce fields, state agencies and local municipal officers in the first of four scheduled discussion panels targeting Maine’s aging population and many of the challenges facing the state.
Maine is the oldest state in the nation and its older population is growing rapidly, with the most recent US census data showing more than 20% of the state’s population is 60 or older. By 2030, it is estimated that one in four Mainers will be over the age of 65 and from 1990-2009, people age 85 and older grew by 58 percent.
This rapid aging of Maine’s population and its impact on our economy, care giving, employers, along with the shrinking younger workforce will be among the focuses of the panel discussions. Among the goals of the Speaker’s Round Table on Aging in Maine is the beginning of crafting comprehensive strategies to address these challenges and opportunities.
“The rapid aging of Maine’s population has an impact on our economy, public health, caregivers, employers, and our workforce. Addressing the impacts of Maine’s aging population is a policy imperative.
Whether you are among the aging population increasingly needing health care or a family member caring for a parent or an employer looking at a retiring workforce, Maine’s shifting demographics will impact all of us. We must look at these challenges and shift the conversation away from simply how to manage long term care.
We need a new dialogue about how to create a state that embraces older citizens. We must expand opportunities for older people in areas such as housing, transportation, and the workforce.”
Professor Charles Colgan addressed some of the concerns regarding the lack of young people within the state’s work force:
“People assume that if we could just keep our young people here, it would solve the problem,” said Colgan. “There are not half enough of them because not enough young people are born here. We have to get people from other places to move here. We’ve got to get more people in.”
Colgan, who is regarded as one of the state’s most experienced economists, estimates that in addition to keeping Mainers from moving away, the state must attract at least 3,000 new residents a year for the next 20 years in order to sustain the state’s workforce.
“Unless we can get productivity to exceed the increased cost in workers, we will suffer competitively in the long run,” said Colgan. “The issue here is not just the wages, not just the physical number of people. We are going to have to have smarter, quicker and more productive workers. If we cannot compete on quantity, we are going to have to compete on quality.”
The speaker took a few moments to meet with the media for a quick question and answer session; video below.
The Speaker’s Round Table on Aging in Maine is sponsored in partnership with Maine Council on Aging and the John T. Gorman Foundation. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 1.