A lot can change in a decade in any economy. But when the state’s economists look into the future they are not projecting much change at all.

A report issued this month by the Department of Labor predicts that the state will have virtually zero growth in jobs during the 10-year period between 2016 and 2026.

The department sees what we have known for a long time. As the state’s population ages and the birthrate drops, Maine’s economy will struggle to tread water. The chicken-and-egg problem of workforce development – companies will not invest if they don’t think they will be able to hire workers and workers don’t move to a place where there are no jobs – means that the state will have few options available to change the cycle.

The Labor Department did propose any game changers. It projects that with a shortage of young workers, the Mainers who live and work here now will stay on the job longer. That might work for some people in their 70s, but it won’t for everybody. Some people won’t be able to continue working after reaching retirement age because of their health and others won’t want to.

There are several organizations that are not accepting the state’s dour projections. A group called MaineSpark seeks to increase the number of Mainers who have specialized training needed to fill vacancies in high paying fields. Maine Works is an ongoing collaboration with the Maine State Chambers of Commerce and Maine Development Foundation, and has identified under employed groups, like disaffected youth and people with disabilities, who would participate in the workforce if they had the chance.

But every economist who has looked at this issue comes to the same conclusion: Maine needs reinforcements.

Even if we trained every Maine teen for high skill work, and somehow managed to prevent any of them from leaving the state, we would still be losing more workers to retirement than we would be adding.

Just as immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries enabled the growth of Maine’s mills, we will need people from away who want to come to the state and raise families.

Ten years of stagnation is not a plan. It’s time for leadership from Augusta committed to welcoming the newcomers we desperately need.

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