Maine Unemployment Rate 3.4 Percent in December Bookmark and Share

January 18, 2019


Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released December workforce estimates for Maine.

Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Estimates

Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 3.4 percent for December was unchanged from October and November, and up from 3.1 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed was up 2,000 over the year to 24,000. Maine‚€™s unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 37 consecutive months, the longest period on record.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for December was up from 3.7 percent for November and down from 4.1 percent one year ago.

The New England unemployment rate estimate for December was 3.4 percent, with New Hampshire 2.5 percent, Vermont 2.7 percent, Massachusetts 3.3 percent, Rhode Island 3.9 percent, and Connecticut 4.0 percent.

The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.2 percent remained above the 60.6 percent U.S. average.

Payroll Survey Estimates ‚€“ The 628,100 preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for November was up 4,300 from one year ago. The private sector estimate was up 4,100 to 528,100, with gains primarily in the hospitality, retail, and manufacturing sectors, and the government estimate was up 200 to 100,000 jobs.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.2 percent for December was up from 2.6 percent one year ago. Rates were up in all counties. Unemployment was lowest in Cumberland and Sagadahoc counties (2.4 percent) and highest in Somerset County (4.9 percent).

Among metro areas, the unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland area (2.5 percent) and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.0 percent) and Bangor areas (3.3 percent).

Due to annual data revisions, release of January 2019 estimates will be delayed until Monday, March 11. Revised data for prior years, including 2018 annual averages, will be published Thursday, February 28. (Data Release Schedule: ).

This release is available at .

Labor force and unemployment data is available at .

Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at .

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


  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. A comparison of 2017 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at .

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2018 is 0.5 to 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 .

  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 2017 to September 2018 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2019. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.

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