4. ECONOMY

 

Employment

 

Westport is a small island and a small town. There are very few employment possibilities on Westport. Based on information from the Maine Department of Labor, there were 346 people in the labor force in the year 2000, of which 337 were employed and 9 were unemployed.  Westport’s 2000 unemployment rate (2.7%) compares favorably with that of the surrounding towns, Lincoln County and the State of Maine, as shown in Table 1.

 

 

Table 1

Summary of Employment, Unemployment, 2000

 

 

Labor Force

Employed

Unemployed

Unemployment Rate

Westport

346

337

9

2.6%

Edgecomb

520

497

23

4.4%

Wiscasset

1,423

1,371

52

3.7%

Lincoln County

18,240

17,750

500

2.7%

Maine

688,800

664,600

24,200

3.5%

Source: Maine Department of Labor, 2001

 

Place of Work

 

According to the 1990 Census, of the 320 workers who reported their job locations, only 24, or 8%, were employed by the various small businesses located on the island (see Table 2). The remaining 296, or 92% of the total, worked off the island. The principal off-island job locations were Wiscasset (77 persons or 24%), and Bath (99 persons or 31%), which together served as job sites for over half of Westport's work force.

 

 

Table 2

Place of Work – Westport Residents, 1990

 

Place

#

%

Place

#

%

Augusta

17

5%

Portland

6

2%

Bath

99

31%

Topsham

21

7%

Boothbay Harbor

6

2%

Westport

24

8%

Brunswick

22

7%

Wiscasset

77

24%

Damariscotta

16

5%

Other

26

8%

Freeport

6

2%

Total

320

100%

Source: U.S. Census, 1990

 

Employment by Industry

 

Table 3 contains a breakdown of the labor force by industry for Westport, Lincoln County and the State of Maine as reflected in the 1990 Census.  Westport had a significantly higher percentage of residents employed in manufacturing of durable goods and retail trade than the other two jurisdictions.

 

 

Table  3

Labor Force Employment By Industry – 1990

 

 

Westport

Lincoln County

State

 

#

%

#

%

#

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agriculture, Forestry, fishing

3

1

709

5

16,263

3

Construction

31

9

1,447

11

42,026

7

Manufacturing, non-durable goods

9

3

456

3

54,741

10

Manufacturing, durable goods

85

25

2,132

16

57,890

10

Transportation

3

1

357

3

19,567

3

Communications, public utilities

13

4

456

3

12,710

2

Wholesale trade

9

3

306

2

20,818

4

Retail trade

87

26

2,445

18

105,312

18

Finance, insurance, real estate

11

3

576

4

31,992

6

Business and repair services

8

2

458

3

19,839

4

Personal services

14

4

562

4

18,322

3

Entertainment, recreation

1

1

112

1

5,333

1

Health services

5

1

999

7

52,675

9

Educational services

20

6

1,100

8

53,685

9

Other professional, related services

18

5

901

7

35,588

6

Public administration

18

5

681

5

25,081

4

Total

335

99

13,697

100

571,842

99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: 1990 Census

 

Employment by Occupation

 

Table 4 contains an occupational breakdown for Westport, Lincoln County and the State of Maine as reflected in the 1990 Census.  Westport had about the same percentage of residents (55%) employed in white collar occupations as the County (52%) and the State (54%).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table  4

Labor Force Employment By Industry – 1990

 

 

Westport

Lincoln County

State

 

#

%

#

%

#

%

White Collar

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Executive, Administrative

48

14

1,475

11

61,376

11

    Professional, Specialty

36

11

2,024

15

79,155

14

    Technical

7

2

382

3

18,523

3

    Sales

30

9

1,316

10

62,139

11

    Administrative Support

64

19

1,716

13

85,388

15

    Total White Collar

185

55

6,913

52

306,581

54

Blue Collar

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Service Occupations

35

10

1,697

12

77,715

14

    Farming, Forestry

3

1

741

5

15,773

3

    Production, Craft, Repair

57

17

2,637

19

76,847

13

    Laborers

55

16

1,709

12

94,926

17

    Total Blue Collar

150

44

6,784

48

265,261

47

Total

335

99

13,697

100

571,842

101

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  1990 Census

 

Agriculture, Forestry, & Marine

 

Despite Westport's rural appearance, there is no longer any significant commercial agriculture or forestry activity on the island. Similarly, despite the island's extensive coastline, there is very little commercial maritime activity on Westport, with the exception of several individuals who earn a living worming and lobstering.

 

Tourism

 

Although Westport is very close to popular tourist destinations like Boothbay Harbor and Freeport, the impact of tourism on the island and its economy is less than might be assumed. There are indirect effects - some island residents are employed in off-island tourism related businesses. But for the most part, the ebb and flow of tourist traffic passes the island by. The explanation is that Westport offers almost no significant attractions for tourists - there are no beaches, no harbors, no shopping possibilities, and no restaurants. The single exception is the Squire Tarbox Inn, which offers dining and lodging, but with room for only 22 guests. Because Westport's one good highway leads only to the island's southern end and no further, there is no possibility to offer services to tourists passing through en route to other destinations, as is the case, for example, with neighboring Edgecomb which stands astride the main route to Boothbay Harbor. In short, Westport has been spared both the benefits and the problems connected with a large influx of summer tourists.

 

Business and Commercial

 

Table 5 contains a breakdown of the types of businesses in Westport as of 2001.

 

 

Table 5

Type of Business – 2001

(at least part of business conducted on the island)

 

Type of Business

Number

Type of Business

Number

Antiques

2

House cleaning

3

Arborist

1

Inn owner

1

Artist

3

Lawn care

2

Artist supplies

1

Lawyers

4

Boat builder

2

Lobsterman

5

Carpenter, light construction

10

Manufacturing (light)

2

Crafts (Association)

13

Marine construction

2

Cleaning company (commercial)

1

Mason

1

Commercial fisherman

1

Real estate

1

Computer company

1

Store owner

2

Electrician

1

Tree farm

1

Heavy equipment, construction

2

Total

62

 

 

 

 

Source:  Selectman, 2001.

 

 

Summary

 

With over 90% of its work force employed off the island, Westport fits the classic definition of a bedroom community. There is no commercial or industrial blight here, but neither are there many job possibilities, and almost no tax revenues directly generated by business activity. Given the island's location well off the beaten track, with no through highway, no established harbor, and the relatively high cost of island land, it is unlikely that any but quite small firms will choose to settle here. As for retail possibilities, the island's population base is probably too small to support anything more than perhaps the existing convenience store/gasoline station, particularly in view of the pull of the stronger shopping opportunities in Bath and Wiscasset, and along Route 1. It seems likely that Westport will remain a bedroom community, and that its economic well being will remain closely linked to the fortunes of the surrounding area, particularly Bath and Wiscasset.