Labor pool, skilled work force more important than energy prices for job creation, report says

Posted March 25, 2012, at 10:03 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has said repeatedly that businesses need cheaper energy in order to create jobs.

But a report Sunday by Maine Today Media says that while no business wants high energy bills, a deep labor pool and skilled work force are more important than energy prices for job creation.

The Maine Department of Labor says the state’s manufacturing sector has shrunk by 28,800 employees between 2000 and 2010. Most new jobs have been in service sectors. Looking to 2018, the department expects 80 percent of jobs to be created in education and health services, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.

While the governor says Maine’s electric rates are the 12th highest in the country, U.S. Energy Information Administration figures show Maine has the lowest commercial rates north of Pennsylvania.