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January 7, 2019
19 on '19

Government perspective: Economic strong points include salmon farms, health services and tourism

File Photo
File Photo
Amanda Rector. Maine state economist

Amanda Rector, the Maine state economist, has been a regular part of the Mainebiz forecast issue. While the format of the issue has evolved over the years, we continue to look to her for insights on the state's economy — the growth areas, the impact of public policy on the economy and any signs of trouble she sees for the coming 12 months. Mainebiz caught up with her recently and she replied by email.

Mainebiz: For 2019, What do you see as some growth areas in Maine's economy?

Amanda Rector: We're continuing to reimagine our traditional industries: the proposed salmon farms in Bucksport and Belfast are great examples of this. Further developments taking advantage of our relationships in the North Atlantic are exciting as well. We're starting to see a truly integrated cluster forming around the beverage manufacturing industry that could serve as an example for other industries in the state. Health services will continue to be a key part of Maine's economy, and there are some technological developments in that area that are expanding the field beyond traditional hospitals and doctors' offices. Tourism also remains critical for Maine's economy, with an expanded fall season and increased numbers of cruise ships as well as the growth of home rentals (think Airbnb) offering new experiences for visitors.

MB: Will the new administration in Augusta have any impact on the economy?

AR: Any new administration has the opportunity to shape state policies, however, it takes some time for those policy changes to filter through into economic changes that we can see. Those policy changes also take place in the context of the larger national and global economic conditions. While Maine has seen improvements in population growth due to increased numbers of people moving into the state in recent years, the labor market is still exceptionally tight, which will need to remain a key area of focus for the new administration.

MB: Any storm clouds on the horizon?

We are currently in the second-longest period of economic expansion in U.S. history; it will become the longest in mid-2019. While the underlying economy still appears reasonably strong, there are signs that growth in 2019 may be somewhat lower than in 2018. Recession may not be imminent, but we're closer to the next one than the last one. The tariff situation should be monitored closely: while we haven't seen broad impacts to date here in Maine, there are particular industries and businesses that have had to make adjustments.

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