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March 28, 2023

STEM jobs make up more than a third of Maine's workforce, BLS stats show

people around coffee table COURTESY / MAINE MATHEMATICS & SCIENCE ALLIANCE “Investments in STEM are key to strengthening and growing Maine’s workforce and economy both in the short and long term, and to positioning Maine for an even brighter future,” said Julia Munsey, president and CEO of Maine State Chamber of Commerce. Shown here are educators with Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, which helps teachers integrate computer science and computational thinking into their classrooms.

There’s a lot of buzz lately about STEM jobs, with good reason.

There are 278,500 Mainers who work in science, technology, engineering, medicine and math-related fields, accounting for more than one-third of the state’s workforce. 

What usually comes to mind when thinking about STEM occupations is scientists in lab coats and Silicon Valley coders, but more than half (56%) do not have bachelor’s degrees.

STEM is more than the stereotype. It includes diverse disciplines feeding ever-changing industries, and Maine is considered fertile ground for STEM development, as innovations unfold in traditional industries such as forestry, agriculture and fishing. This is in addition to new developments in fields as disparate as bioscience, health care, artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous vehicles, military applications and a concept in the works to develop a Maine spaceport complex.

According to a new analysis of data by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, direct STEM employment grew in Maine by 3.4% between 2017 and 2021, while STEM gross domestic product increased to more than $29 billion.

STEM generated $6.5 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2021.

The data analysis was conducted by FTI Consulting for Science is US, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit initiative, and compared Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2017 and 2021, the most recent year available. 

“STEM professions pay more, are more resilient and provide pathways to fulfilling, middle-class livelihoods for people at all education levels,” Rachel Kerestes, executive director of Science is US., said in a news release.

Maine State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julia Munsey said STEM education and careers are an opportunity for the state’s future, employers and economy.

The analysis, Munsey said, “helps confirm that STEM already is a critical economic driver for our state, offers great ideas for how we can grow STEM in Maine, and tells us that there are exciting and well-paying career opportunities in many kinds of STEM jobs for people of all education levels.”

She continued, “Investments in STEM are key to strengthening and growing Maine’s workforce and economy both in the short and long term, and to positioning Maine for an even brighter future.”

Nationally, demand for high-skilled STEM employees, particularly in the manufacturing, health care and defense sectors, is forecast to grow nearly 11% by 2031, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To read the full report, click here

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