Two new concerning data points are illustrating the damage Maine’s economy is feeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
A Maine Department of Labor analysis published on Dec. 30, shows the state suffered its worst percentage job loss dating back through eight recessions to 1969.
According one of the author’s of the analysis, Mark McInerney, director of Maine DOL’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, 16% of Maine’s total jobs were lost between February and April of last year, excluding farm jobs, gig economy jobs and some people who were self-employed.
The result was 104,000 jobs, only 56,000 of which have been recovered.
“The recovery has been slowing down substantially,” said McInerney, explaining that Maine’s trends are “very similar to what’s happening nationally.”
He added that factors contributing to the slow recovery include a number of small businesses like restaurants closing, businesses downsizing staff because they have reduced or modified services and a significant number of people leaving the workforce to take care of children.
Meanwhile, at the same time these numbers are being released, Maine’s food banks are reporting “skyrocketing” demand.
In a Monday interview with NECN and NBC10 Boston, Erin Fogg, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Good Shepherd Food Bank, said that Maine’s “rate of food insecurity is projected to go up by as much as 25%.”
“Before the pandemic, there were about 175,000 Mainers experiencing food insecurity and that number could grow as high as 215,000,” Fogg said.
One bright spot, in that statistic – donations from Mainers to help get people fed have gone up along with need.
“I’ve never seen need like this or a response of generosity like this,” said Fogg, adding that Maine has the highest rate of hunger in New England.
Fogg said Good Shepherd Food Bank is now brainstorming ways to develop long-term solutions with a system that was not designed for the need it is facing.