Nursing homes lag behind as Maine job market rebounds from pandemic

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Maine’s labor market has almost fully recovered after experiencing a steep loss of 95,000 jobs at the start of the pandemic – a loss documented in a new report of the State Department of Labor.

Glenn Mills of the state Department of Labor says most sectors have employment levels similar to 2019 or even higher. But labor market participation is lagging behind.

Mills says some people have left the workforce due to child care issues, while others have decided to retire.

“It even feels for employers who usually hire young people because these young people now have opportunities available to them. So it really creates a more competitive environment. And that will take some time to materialize,” said Mills.

While sectors such as construction, manufacturing and hospitality have seen the strongest recoveries, Mills says other sectors are lagging, especially nursing home care.

“In a situation where salaries in the hospitality industry have increased dramatically, that was really a challenge for nursing facilities, because they’re pretty limited on what they can pay because of Medicare reimbursement rates, so to some extent, they’re outbidding restaurants and others for their staff,” Mills says.

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