The Biggest Industries In Maine

Portland, Maine, USA downtown skyline.
Portland, Maine, USA downtown skyline.

Maine is the 12th smallest state and the 9th least populous in the United States. It borders the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick as well as the Atlantic Ocean which plays a significant role in its economy. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maine’s GSP is $61.4 billion (2017). The per capita personal income for the same year was about $45,000, ranking it 31st nationally. Maine has witnessed a dramatic shift in some of its top industries over the past several decades. The state was once known for shipbuilding, fishing, agriculture, and the making of paper. Although these industries have shrunk, tourism and technology are shifting jobs in Maine. The state is transforming from making goods to providing services. Below are the biggest industries in Maine.


Agriculture contributes significantly to the economy of Maine. The state has a strong sustainable farming community who engage in sustainable farming methods. There are approximately 8,200 farms that collectively contribute about $800 million per year. Although agriculture has always struggled with adverse climatic and soil conditions, the opening of rich farmlands in the west has boosted production. Maine’s agricultural output is mainly blueberries, dairy products, potato, poultry, and eggs. Potato is the largest crop grown in the state and is mainly grown in the Aroostook Country. Maine is the top producer of blueberries and the second-largest producer of maple syrup in the US. Livestock and livestock production accounts for approximately 60% of the agriculture revenue. Milk and eggs are the leading livestock products in the state.


Maine is an important fishing destination in the US. The first permanent settlements in the state were fishing stations, established at Mohegan Island. It offers high-quality fisheries for cold-water species such as lake trout, salmon, arctic char, brook trout, and lobsters. Maine’s fishing industry ranks high among the state and its lobster catch is the biggest in the country. Commercial fishing was once the mainstay of the state and still maintains a presence, especially groundfishing and lobstering. Lobster is the main focus of Maine’s fishing industry. Large quantities of seaweed and oyster in the state, with Maine accounting for about 14% of the oyster supply from the Northeast. It is estimated that the seaweed industry generates $20 million per year. The shrimp industry is on a temporary hold until 2021 because of the decreasing Northern shrimp population.


Maine has long been known for shipbuilding, with several companies setting base in the state. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Maine produced many wooden sailing ships that were to transport cargos and passengers overseas. Although the growth of the industry was slowed down, especially after World War One, there are about 200 firms in Maine that still build ships and boats. Boats are mainly built for fisheries. Apart from the boats, luxury yachts are also a growing part of the industry. The yachts are mainly sold to the European and Asian markets. Bath Iron Work is the largest shipyard in Maine, located on the Kennebec River in Bath. This shipyard has produced military and commercial vessels as well as a battleship, destroyers, cruisers, and frigates


Healthcare is one of the largest employers in Maine. Roughly 8% of the state’s population work in the health care and social assistance industry. The jobs in this industry range from doctors to nurses, caregivers, and ambulance workers. Hospitals in Maine are some of the largest and most active economic institutions in the country. In 2016, the hospitals directly employed about 35,000 people and spent about $5.7 billion as operating and capital expenditure. The overall contribution of the healthcare industry to the economy of Maine was $10 billion in 2016. Maine’s hospitals also provide access to medical care, allowing the communities in the state to sustain their population which is an important source of labor.


Tourism is one of the steadily growing industries in Maine, thanks to the generous coastline, rich American history, and famous. Tourism sustains over 110,000 jobs in Maine and generates close to $10 billion. With more than 30 million visitors choosing the state as their destination, the taxes generated by the industry is roughly $600 million per year. The tourism industry also supports other industries such as agriculture and fisheries which supplies it with food. Maine is known for several attractions including national parks, rocky coastline, lighthouses, beaches, and sports fishing. The Acadia National Park provides a playground for both visitors and locals who enjoy outdoor activities. Other popular attractions are Kennebunkport, Boothbay Harbor, Monhegan Island, and Old Orchard Beach.


Mining has been an important part of the economy of Maine since the 1800s, thanks to its geological composition. Over time, changes in economic conditions created a boom and bust circle in the demand for minerals from the state. Maine is particularly known to produce granite, gem, and slate. The state was the first in the country to produce granite. Currently, the production of non-metallic minerals remain high and accounts for all the mineral value of Maine. The state currently produces cement, sand, peat, clay, and gravel. The state is also exploring strategic metals such as zinc, copper, silver, iron, and gold.


The manufacturing industry in Maine accounts for approximately 10% of the state’s total output and employs about 9% of the total workforce. In 2018, the total output from manufacturing was $6.3 billion from the over 1,600 manufacturing firms. About $2 billion of the manufactured goods were exported in the same year. Manufacturing was dominated by making paper and paper products, textile, leather, and wood products throughout the 20th century. Although the shoe industry was once the largest source of industrial jobs in Maine, it has since been replaced by aerospace products and parts manufacturing, medical equipment manufacturing, and cement and concrete product manufacturing. The most stable manufacturers in Maine are the processors of natural resources such as a forest.

Other Notable Industries

The educational services industry employs about 59,000 of Maine residents. It is the fastest-growing state industry with growing opportunities for teachers in government-funded schools. Construction in Maine is slowly bouncing back recession with more opportunities for contractors, workers, and engineers. The retail industry employs about 6% of Maine’s population. The largest employers in the retail sector are food stores, car dealerships, and clothing stores.


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