Employment patterns of Somali immigrants to Lewiston

April 1, 2008

In 2001, large numbers of Somali immigrants began moving to the Lewiston/Auburn area. While some came directly to Lewiston from Somalia, many others came from large cities in the U.S. They came to Maine for the same reasons that many people move here: the quality of life and strong family values that make the state a good place to raise a family. However, these Somali immigrants have experienced intense scrutiny, because they come from a culture that is unfamiliar to most Maine natives and their language, race, and style of dress make them a highly visible minority population.

The Lewiston/Auburn community has experienced some growing pains while taking in this new population. Employment has been one of the key issues. Many claims have been made about the unemployment rate of the Somali immigrants, but, to date, no analysis has been completed. The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) made arrangements with the City of Lewiston General Assistance (GA) Program to analyze the employment outcomes of the immigrants who received general assistance. In addition, the recently completed report, Employment and Earnings Outcomes for Recently Arrived Refugees in Portland, Maine,i was used as a reference.

The goal of this analysis is to clarify an understanding of the employment patterns of the Somali immigrants. This is an initial descriptive analysis that does not purport to answer all of the questions pertaining to their employment but will outline areas for further study and recommend some first steps.

Please download the full PDF report.

In 2001, large numbers of Somali immigrants began moving to the Lewiston/Auburn area. While some came directly to Lewiston from Somalia, many others came from large cities in the United States. They came to Maine for the same reasons that many people move here: the quality of life and strong family values that make the state a good place to raise a family. The Lewiston/Auburn community has experienced some growing pains while taking in this new population. Employment has been one of the key issues.

Supporting documents

Lewiston Migrant Report (PDF)