Measures of Growth 2017

Measures of Growth is an annual report put out by the Maine Development Foundation for the Maine Economic Growth Council that looks at a variety of metrics to evaluate Maine’s economic growth and potential. This year’s report came out recently, and contains typically useful information.

There were indicators in a variety of areas that may be of interest to MEOC participants and partners.

Employment and workforce – Jobs are projected to increase each year. With that comes a unique challenge to Mainers, as the projected amount of workers available for these jobs is also projected to decrease. In large part, this is due to Maine’s status as a rapidly aging state.

The job sectors that see the most projected growth include Health Care and Social Assistance, Leisure and Hospitality, Construction, Professional and Business Services, and Education Services. One issue facing Maine is that many of these jobs require significant training, including postsecondary education of a variety of types, including professional certificates, associates, bachelors degrees, and sometimes more.

Education – There are several key benchmarks from a testing perspective that are looked at to analyze the educational readiness of Maine’s youth.

  • 4th grade Reading scores are considered relevant as this is a key time when students should be shifting from learning to read, to reading to learn. Students who lag in this metric will struggle going forward. Maine performs at about the US average, and below the rest of New England in this metric, and is the 27th ranked state. Roughly 1/3 of Maine 4th graders are considered proficient in reading.
  • 8th grade Math scores are considered relevant as they reflect a student’s ability in algebra, which is a building block skill for higher level Maths. They are also considered key indicators of Maine’s future success in innovation, research and development, and STEM fields. Here, Maine students perform a little better rating as the 19th ranked state, and performing ahead of the US average. 35% of Maine’s 8th graders are considered proficient in Math.
  • Postsecondary attainment in Maine is a little bit of a mixed bag. Maine trends better than the US average in  attainment, with almost 40% postsecondary attainment in residents aged 25 or older. One characteristic of Maine’s postsecondary attainment is that Maine has a higher percentage of associates degrees than the US average. Key Maine business have identified an increase in postsecondary attainment as a long term key to building the workforce Maine needs. They have set a goal of an attainment rate of 60% by 2025.

What does this mean to adults looking to go back to college?
In part, it means that many adults going back to college may not have the academic skills to immediately start postsecondary education. Due to this, MEOC has built particularly strong partnerships with Maine adult education agencies, Student Support Service programs, and other groups with expertise in preparing Maine adults educationally for college.

The other clear indicator is that if career paths are chosen carefully, individuals with postsecondary degrees should be positioning themselves in a job market where their skills will be needed.