The Washington Post reports that Maine is the bellwether of a growing national crisis: as our population ages, the need for elder caregivers and healthcare providers increases, at the same time that our demographics are creating a shrinking workforce.
As the article notes:
The disconnect between Maine’s aging population and its need for young workers to care for that population is expected to be mirrored in states throughout the country over the coming decade, demographic experts say. And that’s especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly, statistics show.
In Maine, and the nation, unemployment continues to be low (at 3.7% nationwide and 3.2% in Maine). Immigration is part of the solution. Refugees and those seeking or granted asylum, and immediate family immigrants who work in every sector of the economy, from manual labor to highly skilled professions, are essential to preventing the acceleration of our country’s and Maine’s demographic decline.
This is not the time to cut legal immigration as the administration aims to do. The recently published final rule on “public charge” will do just that, by drastically reducing immediate family immigration, and will exacerbate our elder care labor shortage, as this piece in Forbes notes.
Rather, it’s the time to remake our federal immigration laws to eliminate backlogs and processing delays in order to facilitate immigration, and for Maine to embrace its ability to attract asylum seekers to settle in the state who will revitalize our communities and workforce.