March 13, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 13, 2022
Contact: Glenn Mills, 207-621-5192
The Employment Situation in Maine - January 2023
Nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 1,100 to 648,000, the highest total on record. The unemployment rate decreased slightly to 2.9 percent. These preliminary estimates follow annual revisions to data for previous years. Those show that there were somewhat more nonfarm jobs and that unemployment was significantly lower in 2022 than previously published estimates indicated. An article describing those revisions is here - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2023workforcedata_revisions.pdf
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 2.9 percent unemployment rate decreased slightly from 3.1 percent. (The December rate was revised 0.7 percentage points lower.) Labor force participation was unchanged in the month. Unemployment in Maine is slightly 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 3.0 percent average unemployment rate for November to January was little changed from 2.9 percent for the three months through October. In that period average labor force participation and employment rates were little changed.
The unemployment rate for Maine was below the U.S. 3.4 and New England 3.5 percent rates for January. (The U.S. rate for February was 3.6 percent. February rates for states and regions will be published Friday, March 24.)
Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates
Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 1,100 to 648,000 in January to an all-time high. This follows an upward revision of 2,300 jobs for December. Most of the January increase was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which recorded the most jobs since the onset of the pandemic early in 2020.
In the three months through January the number of jobs increased an average of 1,900 per month over the three months through October. The three-month average was 1.5 percentage points higher than the average for calendar year 2019, before the pandemic. Private sector jobs were 1.9 percent higher and government jobs were 0.7 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 2.8 percent. Of the 16 counties, rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than that in eight counties, at least 0.3 points lower than that in three, and close to the average in five. The lowest unemployment rates were in Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties and the highest was in Washington County.
Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland (2.2 percent) and close to the average in Bangor (2.5 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (2.8 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 33.6 hours and earnings averaged $29.82 per hour in January. Hourly earnings increased 3.5 percent from a year earlier, led by a 10.2 percent gain in the leisure and hospitality sector. The workweek was longest in manufacturing 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 - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html
February workforce estimates will be released Friday, March 24 at 10 a.m. The data release schedule - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html
Nonfarm jobs data is available - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces.html
Unemployment and labor force data is available - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus.html
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 2021 and 2022 revised and previously published estimates is available in this blog.
The 90 percent confidence interval for the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January was between 2.2 and 3.7 percent.
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.
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 2022 to September 2023 will be replaced with payroll data in March 2024. Those benchmark revisions usually show less monthly variability than preliminary estimates do.