Portland strongest in Maine as jobs shift, report says

By Matt Wickenheiser, BDN Staff
Posted Dec. 18, 2010, at 4:47 p.m.

The loss of manufacturing jobs over the past decade has hurt the Maine metropolitan areas of Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn, but Portland has emerged relatively intact, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

According to the D.C.-based think tank’s report, the United States lost 7.1 million manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2009 — roughly 38 percent of the nation’s manufacturing base. A majority of those lost jobs were in 114 metro areas that strongly specialized in manufacturing.

Manufacturing jobs 1980-2005

The report authors found that of those 114 areas, two-thirds performed worse than the national average in terms of both job growth and average wage growth from 1980 to 2005. Only three areas performed better than the national average on both of those measures: Portland, Charlotte, N.C., and Manchester, N.H.

“What happened is, despite starting with an unfavorable hand of cards, Portland played that hand very well. Its industries were good job generators,” said Howard Wial, one of the three authors of the report. “It probably has to do with recomposition of the New England economy, the transition of Portland from a much more heavily manufacturing-specialized place to a place that is somewhat manufacturing-specialized but is also more of a center where they have services as well.”

According to the report, the overall number of jobs in the United States grew by 42.6 percent from 1980 to 2005. That reflects a 24.1 percent loss in manufacturing jobs and a 58.4 percent growth in nonmanufacturing jobs. During that period, advanced services jobs grew by 98 percent nationwide. “Advanced services” includes jobs in sectors such as financial, information, and professional and business services.

The average wage nationwide grew by 28.4 percent over that period, Brookings reported.

Over the same period, the Bangor area saw a 65.4 percent decline in manufacturing jobs, Brookings said. It saw a 48 percent growth in non-manufacturing jobs, for an overall 22.6 percent increase in jobs. Advanced service jobs increased by 88.1 percent, Brookings found.

Bangor’s average wage went up by 20.9 percent, the think tank said.

The Lewiston-Auburn area saw manufacturing jobs decline by 46.5 percent, while non-manufacturing jobs grew by 49.5 percent, for a total job growth of 21.9 percent. Advanced services jobs in the area grew by 134.4 percent, Brookings found. The average wage increased 32.7 percent.

And Portland saw an average job growth of 62.4 percent, which was comprised of a 23 percent drop in manufacturing jobs and an 84 percent increase of nonmanufacturing jobs. The advanced services jobs grew by 158.3 percent, and the average wage increased by 28.7 percent.

Brookings estimates that if Bangor had maintained its manufacturing jobs base, the average wages in 2005 would have been almost 9 percent higher. Lewiston-Auburn’s would have been almost 5 percent higher, and Portland’s 6 percent higher. Nationwide, wages would have been 2.3 percent higher, Brookings reported.

“The loss of manufacturing jobs contributed to wage decline,” Wial said. “Wages would have been higher if all these manufacturing jobs had not been lost in virtually all these metropolitan areas.”

The report suggests that manufacturing and advanced services are not in competition, however, and rather complement each other in an economy.

“Focus on one or both,” Wial said. “But don’t ignore one of them.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/12/18/business/portland-strongest-in-maine-as-jobs-shift-report-says/ printed on November 28, 2014