The following is a transcript of a radio address presented by Governor Janet Mills:
Spring has come to Maine, believe it or not, and so is April snow and wind. Skiers are hitting the slopes in Western Maine as we speak and more people are outside regardless of the weather.
This is Janet Mills, Governor of the State of Maine, and thank you for listening.
While daffodils and crocuses are shaking off a light coating of snow in some towns, we too are pushing through the long, hard winter of an unprecedented pandemic.
Meanwhile the state also added more than 4,000 new jobs to the economy last month alone, the largest gain since September.
These gains are welcome news and a sign that our economy is improving.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve tried to do two things: protect the lives of Maine people and protect their livelihoods.
Like every state in the nation, Maine has endured its share of hardship during this pandemic.
We’ve tailored public health restrictions to limit to the greatest extent possible the impacts on businesses, and we distributed more than $249 million in economic recovery grants, more than $50 million to restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, lodging and retail shops, to help them get through these hard times.
We also announced the Moving Maine Forward plan to provide clarity and predictability to plan for the summer months for businesses and people in Maine.
We are also working around the clock to vaccinate Maine people as quickly as possible and to date, almost half of all eligible people have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.
According to Bloomberg’s tracker, Maine is the best state nationwide for the percentage of population fully vaccinated.
All of that’s making a difference. In March, new jobs in Maine were concentrated in education and leisure and hospitality, the two sectors hit hardest by the pandemic. Construction, business services, and a few other sectors have nearly fully recovered to the staffing levels they had a year ago.
These gains reflect other trends that show our economy is improving — building supplies and home sales, consumer sales, auto and business operating sales, retail sales and revenues are up.
According to Moody’s Analytics, Maine ranks second best in New England for returning to pre-pandemic economic activity.
That progress in recovering from the pandemic is important, but we’ve got work to do. Our unemployment rate and labor force participation have changed very little over the last few months.
People are looking to hire. Jobs are available right now. And many people may not realize they can work and still receive partial unemployment benefits including the $300 stipend. You can search for available jobs on the Maine JobLink at Joblink.Maine.Gov.
As we get through this pandemic, we want Maine people to get back to work, we need you to work, so our Administration is focused on training skilled workers to fill jobs; making education more affordable and accessible; connecting students to local businesses building life-long careers right here at home. We’ll continue to build the infrastructure young families need – high speed internet access and affordable childcare. Let’s get back to work.
My Administration will be laser focused on strengthening our economy and in the coming weeks, we will announce our plans to distribute the new federal funds Maine has received from the American Rescue Plan from Congress to get people back to work and to get our economy up and running at full speed.
As we do that, it’s important to remember that we can’t have a healthy economy without healthy people. Let's keep doing those basic things — watching our distance, avoiding large gatherings, particularly ones that are indoors. And, for crying out loud, wear the mask.
You know, you don’t go into a construction site without putting a hard hat on, right? You don’t go into a manufacturing plant without putting ear plugs and safety goggles on, right? You don’t get in your car, go for a drive, without buckling up. It’s the same thing. Wear the mask, keep us all protected.
With spring break right around the corner for many schools, we’ve got to be extra careful. Travel is inevitable, but please travel safely.
Get outside and explore all the beauty and abundance Maine has to offer.
And if you haven’t done so already, please, it’s is a great time to schedule your appointment to get the vaccine.
Visit maine.gov/covid19/vaccines to see where you can get a vaccine and set up an appointment.
Together we will get through this and get our state back to normal. Meanwhile please, keep the faith and stay safe during this spring break.
This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.