Maine Unemployment Rate 7.3 Percent in December Bookmark and Share

January 18, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 18
Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

AUGUSTA--State Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette released December workforce estimates for Maine.

Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data

Survey of Households - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate for Maine was 7.3 percent in December, little changed from 7.2 percent in November and up from 7.0 percent one year ago. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 51,400 were unemployed, up 1,600 over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate was estimated at 7.8 percent, unchanged from November and down from 8.5 percent one year ago.

When comparing unemployment rates it is important to be aware of what underlies them. Maine continues to have a higher rate of labor force participation than the nation. If the labor force participation rate in Maine were as low as the U.S. average, our unemployment rate would be near five percent; if U.S. participation were as high as the Maine average, the national unemployment rate would be near ten percent.

Because differences in labor force participation skew unemployment rates, the employment to population ratio provides a better basis for comparing workforce conditions to the nation. Maine had a higher share of employed population than the nation for the 63rd consecutive month in December (60.5 percent compared to 58.6 percent for the U.S.).

(NOTE: The labor force participation rate is the share of the population age 16+ working or actively seeking work. Jobless people not looking for work are not in the labor force and not counted as unemployed. The employment to population ratio is the share of the population age 16+ that is employed.)

The unemployment rate estimate for New England was 7.3 percent; estimates for other states were 5.7 percent in New Hampshire, 5.1 percent in Vermont, 6.7 percent in Massachusetts, 10.2 percent in Rhode Island and 8.6 percent in Connecticut.

Survey of Employer Payrolls – Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there were 591,500 nonfarm payroll jobs in December, down 2,700 from the revised November estimate. The estimate of U.S. nonfarm payroll jobs was up 155,000.

When using nonfarm payroll jobs estimates, it is important to know that they tend to be volatile from month to month. When estimates for the period from July 2011 to September 2012 are replaced with actual payroll data, they will show less volatility and also will indicate a general trend of job growth since the middle of 2011. A nearby charts shows what those revisions are likely to look like when published in March 2013.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in December, up from 7.0 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 5.6 percent in Cumberland County to 10.1 percent in Hancock 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 metro areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (5.9 percent), Bangor (6.8 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (7.1 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 data is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/data.html.

Due to annual benchmark revisions, release of January data will be delayed until Monday, March 18.