Maine’s unemployment rate sinks to 3 percent, business faces tight employee pool

Posted:  Friday, May 19, 2017 - 3:15pm
Share: 

Workforce conditions remained tight throughout much of Maine in April with very low unemployment, particularly in the southwest portion of the state.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.0 percent for April was unchanged from March, remaining the lowest on record since the current estimation methodology was implemented in 1976. It was down from 3.8 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed was down 5,000 over the year to 21,000.

The unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for the last seven months and 15 of the last 18.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.4 percent in April was little changed from 4.5 percent in March and down from 5.0 percent one year ago.

The New England unemployment rate averaged 3.9 percent.

April unemployment rate estimates for other states in the region were 2.8 percent in New Hampshire, 3.1 percent in Vermont, 3.9 percent in Massachusetts, 4.3 percent in Rhode Island, and 4.9 percent in Connecticut.

The employment to population ratio estimate of 62.1 percent remained above the U.S. average of 60.2 percent.

The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate of 621,900 for April was up 3,900 from one year ago. The largest job gains were in the healthcare and construction sectors.

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.4 percent for April was down from 4.0 percent one year ago. Rates declined over the year in all counties. The lowest rate was 2.4 percent in Cumberland County and the highest was 6.4 percent in Washington County.

Unemployment rates were lower than the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland (2.5 percent), Lewiston-Auburn (3.0 percent), and Bangor (3.3 percent).

May estimates will be released on Friday, June 16.

Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

NOTES

1. Preliminary labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed) tend to move in a direction for several months and then reverse course. Those directional trends are largely driven by a smoothing procedure and may not indicate a change in underlying workforce conditions. Annual revisions (published in March each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns.

2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2017 is 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate each month.

3. To assess employment growth, we recommend looking at nonfarm jobs from the payroll survey rather than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger, has smaller margins of error, and is subject to smaller revisions. More on the differences in accuracy of the two measures is at http://cwri.blogspot.com/2016/04/reports-that-maine-is-losing-jobs-are.html .

4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because there is variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness for the universe of all employers. Additionally, seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters and holidays, and other events do not always occur with the same timing, which can exacerbate monthly volatility. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Estimates for the period from October 2016 to September 2017 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2018. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.