Maine youth migration profiles, 1995-2000

April 2, 2004

Prepared for REALIZE!Maine:

This paper explores the characteristics of young people aged 20-34 who moved from Maine, to Maine, and within Maine over the period 1995-2000. The paper uses data from the 2000 census to provide a more detailed picture of the age, employment, income, locational and educational characteristics of young people who moved during this period.

The data shows that Maine has clearly had a youth out-migration problem, particularly in the years most closely associated with going to college. Young people who left Maine were more likely to have higher education and higher incomes, although the differences were generally not as large as might be expected. Out-migrants were also more likely to be those looking for work in certain fields such as professional and technical fields. Out-migrants were most likely to go to states in New England and the Southeastern regions, and were more likely to come from southern Maine than northern Maine.

At the same time, Maine did attract a substantial number of young people from outside the state to come to Maine. While there were about 6,000 more out-migrants to Maine than in-migrants among the 20-34 age group, the net out-migration is accounted for almost entirely by those between 20 and 24. In the rest of the age group, in-migrants outnumbered out-migrants. In-migrants are also more likely to come here from other New England States. More young people also moved to Maine from the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West and the Intermountain West regions than moved from Maine to these areas. In-migrants were more likely to go to southern Maine than northern Maine.

There was also movement by young people within Maine. In fact, young people, like people everywhere, are more likely to move locally than to move a significant distance; about two-thirds of Maine residents in 2000 who had moved since 1995 moved within the same region. For those who did move outside their region, the urban areas of Portland and Bangor were the most popular destinations, while the rural areas of eastern, northern, and western Maine saw the largest net out-migration.

The implications of these findings should help shape the debate about youth migration in Maine. Among these implications are:

  • The biggest force pulling young people outside of Maine appears to be the opportunity to go to college.
  • A greater availability of certain types of work in professional and technical fields also appears to draw young people outside of Maine.
  • The exodus from rural Maine is real, but many young people clearly choose to stay in Maine by moving to more urban areas.
  • Maine remains an attractive place for young people to move to. The imbalance in favor of young people leaving the state is most affected by education choices.
  • Young people who move to Maine are more likely to have been born in another state than Maine. Making Maine attractive to all young people is thus likely to be more important than focusing only on encouraging those from Maine to return.

In presenting our findings, we try to specifically answer the most commonly asked questions about youth migration in Maine, so the analysis is organized around key questions concerning youth migration.

Prepared for REALIZE!Maine: This paper explores the characteristics of young people aged 20-34 who moved from Maine, to Maine, and within Maine over the period 1995-2000. The paper uses data from the 2000 census to provide a more detailed picture of the age, employment, income, locational and educational characteristics of young people who moved during this period.

Supporting documents

Maine Youth Migration Profiles 1995-2000 (PDF)