STEM is directly responsible for over 36 percent of Maine’s GDP

PORTLAND — There are 278,500 Mainers who work in science, technology, engineering, medicine and math-related fields, accounting for more than one-third of the state’s workforce. And more than half (56 percent) do not have bachelor’s degrees.

These People of Science are advanced manufacturing specialists, electricians, foresters, ironworkers, laboratory technicians, licensed practical nurses, marine biologists, and veterinarians, among others.

According to a new analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, direct STEM employment grew in Maine by 3.4 percent between 2017 and 2021 while STEM gross domestic product increased to more than $29 billion.

The data and other findings are included in the People of Science analysis conducted by FTI Consulting for Science is US, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit initiative. The analysis compared BLS data from 2017 and 2021, the most recent year available. The analysis determined that:

  • 34 percent of Maine’s workforce (278,500 workers) are STEM professionals and 56.6 percent do not hold a bachelor’s degree;
  • STEM directly contributed $29.2 billion to the state’s economy, 36.6 percent of Maine’s GDP; and
  • STEM generated $6.5 billion in state and local tax revenue in 2021.

“STEM professions pay more, are more resilient and provide pathways to fulfilling, middle-class livelihoods for people at all education levels,” said Rachel Kerestes, executive director of Science is US. “And the data also tells us that STEM professionals are more productive than their non-STEM peers.

“Educators, business owners and government leaders – not to mention parents – must recognize the enormous value in STEM fields and do what’s necessary to teach, train and recruit the workers to fill existing vacancies in the near term while developing a strong STEM workforce for the long term,” she said.

“Championing STEM education and STEM career exploration is a fantastic opportunity for Maine people, the state’s future, and Maine employers and economy,” said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Julia Munsey. “Science is US’s People of Science analysis helps confirm that STEM already is a critical economic driver for our state, offers great ideas for how we can grow STEM in Maine, and tells us that there are exciting and well-paying career opportunities in many kinds of STEM jobs for people of all education levels. Investments in STEM are key to strengthening and growing Maine’s workforce and economy both in the short- and long-term, and to positioning Maine for an even brighter future.”

Demand for high-skilled STEM employees, particularly in the manufacturing, healthcare and defense sectors is forecast to grow nearly 11 percent nationally by 2031, BLS says.

Science is US is a foundation-supported effort that brings together a diverse group of science, engineering, industry, higher education and labor organizations to galvanize a broad, bipartisan political base of support for science and technology.