| Oct. 1st, 2014

Maine Manufacturers Offer Glimpse Into their World

Maine manufacturers and their employees have taken a beating for years, with sector employment down 42 percent since 1991. In the last three years alone, another 141 Maine factories have closed, resulting in an additional 8,600 lost jobs.

Maine Congressman Michael Michaud recently surveyed the survivors to see how they are weathering these economic and political storms. The results, from a sample of 85 manufacturers across the state, are an interesting glimpse into the businesses that form the foundation of Maine's economy.

Here are a few of the key takeaways:

  • Maine manufacturers are small; 49% had fewer than 20 employees and only 15% employed more than 100 people
  • 67% are committed to staying in Maine
  • Only 13% said they'd have layoffs in the near future, with the rest either planning to hire or keep employment levels steady
  • Finding skilled employees is a major challenge, according to 56% of the respondents
  • While most Maine employers value veteran workers, just 6 percent are in favor of gimmicks like tax credits for hiring vets
  • Smaller manufacturers were more likely to believe America was doomed for a "double-dip" reception
  • Bigger manufactures were more likely to be concerned about trade with China
  • Most Maine exporters ship to Canada or Britain and few indicated that they'd ship to India or China
  • The top three issues Maine manufacturers are concerned about are: 1) costs of health care coverage; 2) government policies and regulations; and 3) taxes.

And here is a sample of the solutions offered by Maine business owners:

  • “Provide easy access to export brokerage firms to reduce costs and limitations of exporting goods"
  • “Protect patent, copyright, and manufacturing information."
  • “Perhaps some sort of incentives to help prevent outsourcing, or perhaps cutting back on Free Trade Agreements.

What do you think the government should do to help Maine's manufacturers? Share your thoughts below.

The full survey is available online.

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