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POOR HOUSE - Maine is one of only two states to decline in 2005

An article in today's New York Times discusses a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston which found that Maine has a strong tourist economy but a relatively weak yearlong economy in the wake of our dissolving manufacturing base. Hardly breaking news.

But the extent of the trouble is: According to the Reserve, Maine is one of only two states in the country to suffer economic decline in 2005. The other state is Louisiana.

Officials cited in the Times article blame our shoddy showing on business and residents' fears during contract renewal for Bath Iron Works, the closing of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, and Bank of America buying MBNA.

According to the Times, some in Maine say the state needs to cut taxes and train workers more effectively:

Dr. John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, said that about 4,200 technical jobs in health care, manufacturing and construction went begging or were filled by people from out-of-state because of a shortage of slots in Maine's associate degree programs.

"What you have is a local work force not being upgraded for job opportunities that already exist in the home state," Dr. Fitzsimmons said.

To read the report in the current issue of the Reserve's Indicators magazine, click here.

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