Unemployment Rate in May is 5.7%, Number of Mainers Working Higher than National Average

June 20, 2014

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 20
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, (207) 287-2531

AUGUSTA – Governor Paul R. LePage released a statement today about the 5.7% unemployment rate for May, which is down from 6.7% a year ago and is the lowest since September 2008. The employment-to-population ratio, which is the percentage of adults who have a job and is a better indicator of economic recovery, is 61.6% — well above the national average.

“Just this week, the New York Times affirmed the efforts we have made to recover jobs lost during the great recession,” said Governor LePage. “Thousands more Mainers are working in the private sector now than when I took office."

The number of private-sector jobs is up 9,900 from one year ago, mostly in leisure and hospitality; retail trade; professional and business services; and education and healthcare. The number of government jobs is down 700.

The New York Times highlights Maine as one of three states that have recovered a significant number of jobs lost during the recession.

“Employment rates have rebounded in some states with strong growth, like Utah, Nebraska and Montana. But only three states — Maine, Texas and Utah — have retraced more than half their losses,” The New York Times reported.

Since Governor LePage took office, 15,000 private-sector jobs have been created; there are now almost 8,000 job openings on the Maine Job Bank; and Maine’s employment-to-population ratio remains higher than the national average.

The New York Times reports that the number of adults actually employed is a more accurate indicator of how the economy is doing. The share of Maine’s population that is employed remains at 61.8 percent, which is 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.

The story in The New York Times also notes that “most economists do not expect employment rates to rebound completely,” pointing to a national trend that Maine is now experiencing: an aging population leaving the workforce with fewer younger people to fill those jobs.

“Maine's aging population presents a challenge to economic and job growth,” said Governor LePage. “We have to bring more companies with good-paying jobs to our state, which will help attract and retain more young people and families. That's why we proposed Open for Business zones, which would have enticed large companies that offer high-paying career jobs to come to Maine. But the Democrats pursued an aggressive anti-business agenda this legislative session. They even prevented teens from getting jobs in movie theatres and bowling alleys.”

"We must continue our efforts to transform Maine from a high-tax state with a large welfare population to a low-tax, business-friendly state that encourages companies to create good-paying career jobs for Maine families,” the Governor said.