The Employment Situation in Maine - December 2022 Bookmark and Share

January 24, 2023


Contact: Glenn Mills, 207-621-5192

The Employment Situation in Maine - December 2022

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs decreased by 2,300 to 644,600, following a large upward revision to the November estimate. The number of jobs in December was the second highest on record. Unemployment and labor force participation rates were little changed in the month. Estimates derived from the two monthly workforce surveys have been at odds throughout 2022. An updated article describing the differences in coverage and accuracy of these datasets -

This news release presents estimates derived from two monthly surveys. The Current Population Survey collects information from households on labor force status, including labor force participation, employment, and unemployment. The Current Employment Statistics survey collects information from nonfarm employers by industry on the number of jobs, hours worked, and wages paid to individuals on their payrolls. Both surveys are administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

The 3.8 percent unemployment and 57.9 percent the labor force participation rates were little changed in the month. Unemployment was higher and labor force participation and employment rates were lower than rates that prevailed shortly before the pandemic.

Three-month averages generally provide a better indication of workforce conditions as they smooth some of the variability in sample-based estimates and they reflect revisions for previous months. The 3.7 percent average unemployment rate for October to December was up from 3.1 percent for the three months through September. In that period average labor force participation and employment rates decreased.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs decreased by 2,300 to 646,600 in December from an upwardly revised all-time high in November. Most of the decrease was in leisure and hospitality, though the sector maintained the second highest number of jobs in the 34 months since the onset of the pandemic early in 2020. (November was the highest in that period.)

In the three months through December the number of jobs increased an average of 2,400 per month over the three months through September. The three-month average was 1.2 percentage points higher than the average for calendar year 2019, before the pandemic. Private sector jobs were 1.7 percent higher and government jobs were 1.9 percent lower, mostly in public higher education.

County and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

On a not seasonally-adjusted basis the statewide unemployment rate was 3.4 percent. Of the 16 counties, rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than that in nine counties, at least 0.3 points lower than that in three, and close to the average in four. Rates ranged from a low of 2.8 percent in Sagadahoc County to a high of 5.2 percent in Somerset County.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland (2.7 percent) and close to the average in Bangor (3.1 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (3.5 percent).

(For substate areas, labor force estimates, including unemployment rates, are not seasonally adjusted. Because of this, estimates for a certain month should be compared to the same month in other years and should not be compared to other months.)

Statewide and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Hours and Earnings Estimates

The private sector workweek averaged 33.4 hours and earnings averaged $29.81 per hour in December. Hourly earnings increased 5.5 percent from a year earlier, led by a 9.6 percent gain in trade, transportation, and utilities. The workweek was longest in the construction and manufacturing sectors and shortest in leisure and hospitality. Earnings were highest in professional and business services and lowest in leisure and hospitality.

Hourly earnings were higher than the statewide average in the Portland-S. Portland metro and lower in Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn.

This news release is available in a more accessible format -

Due to annual data revisions, release of January 2023 estimates will be delayed until Monday, March 13 at 10 a.m. Revised statewide data for prior years, including 2022 annual averages, will be published Wednesday, March 1. The data release schedule -

Nonfarm jobs data is available -

Unemployment and labor force data is available -


  1. Preliminary seasonally-adjusted labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed), as well as nonfarm wage and salary job estimates are inexact. Annual revisions (published in March each year) add accuracy. A comparison of 2020 and 2021 revised and previously published estimates is available in this blog.
  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was between 3.1 and 4.6.
  3. Nonfarm wage and salary jobs from the payroll survey provide a better indication of changes in employment than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger and has smaller margins of error.
  4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because of variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness of all employers. Seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters, and other events do not always occur with the same timing relative to the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month, which is the survey reference period. This sometimes exacerbates monthly changes in jobs estimates. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Jobs estimates for the period from April 2021 to September 2022 will be replaced with payroll data in March 2023. Those benchmark revisions usually show less monthly variability than preliminary estimates do.