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May 16, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2014 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
State Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette released April workforce estimates for Maine.
The unemployment rate was the lowest since September 2008 and the employment to population ratio remained the highest since November 2008. Over the last year, job growth was spread across a number of sectors.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data
Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate was 5.7 percent in April, down from 5.9 percent in March and 6.8 percent one year ago. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the number of unemployed declined 7,400 over the year to 40,500.
The share of the population that is employed remained at 61.8 percent, well above the U.S. average of 58.9 percent. April was the 79th consecutive month the employment to population ratio was above the national average.
Like the nation in April, lower labor force participation was the primary factor pushing the unemployment rate down, rather than rising employment. The decline in labor force participation was much smaller in Maine, resulting in a smaller unemployment rate decline.
Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates of the size and rate of participation in Maine’s labor force have trended up in the winter, usually peaking in March, before declining through summer in three of the previous four years. This reflects an anomaly in seasonal adjustment (meant to eliminate seasonal changes so users can look at underlying trends), which has caused labor force participation to be overstated in the fall and winter and understated in the spring and summer. That trend appears to be playing out this year as well.
The U.S. unemployment rate estimate was 6.3 percent, down from 6.7 percent in March and 7.5 percent one year ago. The New England unemployment rate averaged 6.1 percent. Rates for other states were 4.4 percent in New Hampshire, 3.3 percent in Vermont, 6.0 percent in Massachusetts, 8.3 percent in Rhode Island, and 6.9 percent in Connecticut.
Labor force and unemployment data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .
Payroll Survey Estimates – The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for April of 605,100 is up 5,600 from one year ago. Private sector jobs were up 6,600, primarily in the retail trade, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and healthcare, and financial activities sectors. Those gains were partially offset by a decline of 1,000 jobs in government.
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 5.9 percent in April, down from 6.9 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 4.5 percent in Cumberland County to 10.0 percent in Washington County. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and central counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.
The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metropolitan areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (4.6 percent), Lewiston-Auburn (5.5 percent), and Bangor (5.7 percent) .
This release is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html . Detailed labor force and unemployment data for the state, counties, and 31 labor market areas; nonfarm jobs data for the state and the three metropolitan areas; and much more is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/data.html .
May estimates will be released Friday, June 20 (Data Release Schedule available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html).
Preliminary unemployment estimates for Maine 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 (to be published in March 2015) will eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of preliminary and annually revised unemployment rates is available at http://cwri.blogspot.com/2014/03/workforce-data-revisions-part-1.html .
Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month. Estimates for the period from October 2013 to September 2014 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2015. The job count is likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.