SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Maine community college officials say one reason enrollment is up this fall is because the bad economy has forced many people to go back to school to learn new skills after losing their jobs.

Maine Community College System President John Fitzsimmons said Wednesday that enrollment at the state’s seven community colleges is up 13 percent this fall over last year, to 13,817 degree-enrolled students.

All seven of the community colleges are experiencing sharp enrollment increases, ranging from 9 percent at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland to 36 percent at York County Community College in Wells.

Fitzsimmons said high school graduates are also attracted to the community colleges to learn marketable skills and because of low tuition rates.