Retirees: An economic engine for Downeast Maine

Marian and Dave Wells retired to Ellsworth in 2006. Active volunteers in the community, on Monday they helped prepare dinner for the Everybody Eats free meal program at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church.

ELLSWORTH — When Ellsworth City Manager Michelle Beal envisions the city’s future she sees a large population of active retirees, young families and everyone else in between.

At the moment she’s rooting for the baby boomers — who are retiring at a rate of 4 million a year.

“They purchase food, professional services, medical needs, clothing, they pay taxes,” Beal said. “And what they take back from that in needs is very, very little.”

Retirees do not, for example, send children to the public schools though they pay the taxes that maintain those schools.

“I don’t agree with the thought process that if you have a lot of seniors you don’t have a work force,” she said. “People are working well into their 70s and they’re doing fine. They’re helping fulfill that need in the work force.”

Beal said that retired persons with their Social Security, pensions and savings often can afford to do jobs younger people cannot.

The question of whether retirees are a boon or a bane is being assessed in communities around the country.

On the plus side, these studies conclude, is an ever-growing bulge of law-abiding people with high level skills, good health, a spirit of volunteerism, money to spend on homes, restaurants, entertainment and health, financial and legal services.

On the down side is the reality that all of these people will continue to age and require more services.

In either case the numbers are significant. There are 76 million baby boomers — anyone born between 1946 and 1964.

The Pew Research Center says they began retiring in earnest in 2006 — four million every year — and will continue to do so well into 2030.

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Jacqueline Weaver

Jacqueline Weaver

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Jacqueline's beat covers the eastern Hancock County towns of Lamoine through Gouldsboro as well as Steuben in Washington County. She was a reporter for the New York Times, United Press International and Reuters before moving to Maine. She also publicized medical research at Yale School of Medicine and scientific findings at Yale University for nine years.[email protected]
Jacqueline Weaver

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