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Updated: November 27, 2019

Hospitality industry added $6.9B to Maine's economy in 2018, report says

A man stands outdoors with his arms folded and the dome of the Maine State House in the backround Photo / Maureen Milliken Steve Hewins, CEO and president of HospitalityMaine

Maine's hospitality sector contributed an estimated $6.9 billion to the state last year, some $4 billion of it in direct sales, according to a study released Tuesday by HospitalityMaine.

Steve Hewins, CEO of the hotel and restaurant trade association, said he believes the study is the first in the state focused solely on the hospitality industry, and it aims to bring attention to the contributions of the industry as well as the career opportunities.

"I'm about studies that are executable," he told Mainebiz in an interview last week.

While the group issued a report last year focused on how many openings there are in the industry, as well as the top-line data on the industry's size in the state, the new study is a much broader view of the industry, including previously unreported information on the type and pay of hospitality jobs and the percentage of overall sales and employment by county.

The study breaks down the industry by county, and includes dozens of jobs and their pay scales, shedding "clarifying light on a sprawling, sometimes misunderstood industry," a news release from the organization said.

According to the study, in 2018 Maine hotels, motels, restaurants and bars:

  • had a statewide economic contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $6.9 billion in output;
  • accounted for $4 billion in retail sales (restaurants, $2.9 billion; lodging, $1.1 billion);
  • generated a fiscal impact of an estimated $702 million in state and local taxes;
  • directly employed about 59,000 workers (food service and bars, 42,000; accommodations, 12,000) and an additional 20,000 multiplier jobs
  • accounts for about one of 10 jobs in Maine, and 17% of taxable retail sales;
  • accounts for direct wages of $1,272,657,499 and multiplier wages of $958,103 for a total $2,230,760,991;
  • in Cumberland County had the highest industry employment (17,852) as well as the highest taxable sales ($1,180,116,555);
  • in Hancock County, home of Acadia National Park, had the highest percentage of workers in the industry, compared to other industries in the county (14.7%) and the highest percentage of taxable hospitality retail sales among all industries in the county (32.6%), followed closely by York County (14.6%, 31.6%).

HospitalityMaine, which represents more than 1,000 members, commissioned the study, which was done by the University of Maine, and researched by professors Todd Gabe and Andrew Crawley. The analysis is based on data from Maine Revenue Services, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information.

Crawley and Gabe's work was funded in part by grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food & Agriculture. 

'All the options that exist'

“This landmark study confirms the size and scope of Maine’s hospitality industry,” said Hewins in the release. “Having the range of jobs and pay scales from all across the state gives people an idea that that industry is diverse and filled with opportunities.”

The study found that hospitality covers a broad range of occupations, which span a wide spectrum of wages.

HospitalityMaine believes that the booming industry can provide a path to a sustained livelihood for those who work in it, Hewins told Mainebiz. But misconceptions abound, particularly about career opportunities in the industry, he said.

"Perception is not the reality," Hewins said. "People only think of low-paying or seasonal jobs, they're not looking at it as an economically sustainable career path."

One purpose of the study is explain "all the options that exist."

"When you talk to general managers (in the industry), most of them started at the bottom," he said.

According to the report, entry-level positions start around $20,000 but can exceed $178,000 for a seasoned general manager. Higher-paying occupations in the hospitality sector include food service managers, general and operation managers, chefs and head cooks, and lodging managers, according to the report. 

“This is breakthrough hard data,” said Hewins, “We know the importance of the industry and this validates it.”

The study comes after the organization announced a $44,000 grant from Maine Quality Centers earlier this month that will allow up to 125 culinary and lodging apprentices to earn academic credits cost-free in HospitalityMaine's earn-while-you-learn program. The organization also announced a partnership with the Department of Corrections that will provide a career path for those incarcerated in jail or prison.

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