The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local job market is clear from the annual employment report issued by the Maine Department of Labor.

The 2020 annual employment and wage estimates released prior to Labor Day 2021 shows the number of people working in Knox County declined from a record 18,230 in 2019 to 16,210 in 2020. The average wage of those people working, however, rose from $44,985 in 2019 to $46,048 in 2020.

The workers hit the hardest in Knox County were those employed in food preparation. The average number of people working in the industry fell from 1,940 in 2019 to 1,350 in 2020. The average pay for the people working in food preparation was $29,514 in 2020, up slightly from $28,518 in 2019.

There were 1,130 people working in sales during 2020 with an average pay of $36,651. Included in this category are 260 cashiers who were paid on average $26,982. The 480 retail salespeople were paid $30,659 on average. The number of retail jobs declined from 650 in 2019 to 480 in 2020, according to the state report.

The number of health care practitioners in 2020 was 820 with their average pay $91,598. That ranged from $134,085 for pharmacists to $68,278 for registered nurses. Health care support jobs totaled 730 with an average pay of $31,621. Physicians are not listed separately in the report.

The labor department report estimated there were 1,020 educational and library jobs in Knox County with an average pay of $45,124.

Office and administrative support jobs totaled 2,340 in 2020 with an average pay of $37,707. That includes 40 postal carriers who had an average pay of $52,878, The 240 bookkeepers and accountants earned $42,586 on average. The 290 customer service representatives were paid $34,653.

The 1,300 workers in buildings and grounds maintenance were paid on average $33,377 during 2020. This includes 890 landscapers who were paid $33,660 on average, 250 custodians who were paid $32,406, and maids/housekeepers paid $30,733.

The average pay for the 1,100 workers in construction was $42,772.

The 830 workers in installation, repair and maintenance were paid $52,578 on average.

There were 1,470 people working in the production industry with an average pay of $41,834. That includes 120 welders who were paid $47,114.

The 1,120 people in the transportation sector were paid $37,094 on average. The 20 captains, mates, and pilots earned $77,094 on average. The 380 truck drivers earned more than $44,000.

The 100 people in the legal profession earned $110,995 on average.

There were 920 management jobs paying $78,754 on average. Thirty chief executive officers were paid $109,469 on average.

The 220 people working in computer jobs were paid on average $92,683.

The 140 architectural and engineering workers were paid $78,094.

Graphic designers were paid $40, 509 on average.

Statewide, the average pay for all workers in 2020 was $51,220. This ranged from a high of $56,985 in Cumberland County to a low of $40,809 in Lincoln County.

Working people began organizing and bargaining collectively to advocate for better working conditions and wages and celebrated the first Labor Day in New York City Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882. Following the deaths of 13 workers during the Pullman Strike in June 1894, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with the labor movement a top priority of his administration, making Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894, according to UnionPlus.org.

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