Maine has received good news from the pandemic. It is a leading state for immigration.

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It looks like Maine may be a beneficiary of the “big resignation”. In the past two years, migration to Maine – the number of people settling in the state – has overtaken most of the rest of the country.

Maine’s net migration was the highest of New England and the seventh highest in the country, as a percentage of population, from July 2019 to July 2021.

This is shameless good news in the country’s oldest state, where deaths continue to exceed births.

Economists, demographic experts and business leaders have long warned that Maine would face economic stagnation and chronic labor shortages if more people did not move to Pine State.

Numbers from the past two years don’t mean these challenges have been eliminated or overcome, but they could mean Maine is moving in the right direction.

To be clear, the numbers are low: Maine’s population grew by over 16,500 in 2020 and just under 10,000 in 2021. This is, however, much faster than the overall population growth of the United States. United. The total population of the United States grew only 0.1% between July 2020 and July 2021 amid lower than normal birth rates, reduced international migration and higher mortality from the pandemic of COVID-19, according to census data.

Most newcomers to Maine come from other states; a small percentage comes from other countries.

During what has been called the big resignation or the big reshuffle – economic and workplace upheavals have sparked the COVID-19 pandemic – many people are looking for something better, said l Maine state economist Amanda Rector on the Bangor Daily News Editorial Board in a recent conversation. Maine is a good place to find it “better,” she said.

Rector said it was too early to say whether the recent growth was the start of a new trend, like the Back to Earth movement of the 1970s, or rather the coup after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While the state does not yet have data on the ages of newcomers to Maine and where they settled, there is anecdotal information on school enrollments, real estate transactions, and license transfers. To drive. This information shows that while there is growth in southern Maine, newcomers are also moving to rural parts of the state, particularly Rangeley and Greenville, according to Heather Johnson, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development and community.

Johnson and Rector spoke about the importance for Mainers and their communities to make an effort to make sure these new Mainers feel welcome and are helped acclimatize to life in Maine. Workplaces are usually the places where newcomers meet their colleagues and neighbors. During the pandemic, many people are working remotely. This makes Maine an attractive place for people who can work from home. However, working from home can also be isolating, Johnson said. It is therefore essential that people new to the state have other connections to their new neighborhood, city or school district.

Johnson recognized the work of local chambers of commerce, school districts and the Live + Work in Maine group for taking on much of this work. Live + Work in Maine, for example, hosts virtual and in-person events for people who are new to Maine or who have recently returned to Maine.

“We want them to feel the strong community that we feel here so that they stay here,” Johnson said.

Addressing housing affordability, particularly in southern Maine, is another challenge.

But, for now, immigration and population growth appear to be a silver lining in an otherwise difficult time.

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