The Employment Situation in Maine - March 2023 Bookmark and Share

April 21, 2023


Contact: Glenn Mills, 207-621-5192

The Employment Situation in Maine - March 2023

The number of nonfarm wage and salary jobs was little changed in March, remaining close to the level of the previous four months. Unemployment decreased slightly in the month. Each measure remained near record levels.

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. Preliminary estimates from the two surveys sometimes diverge in direction or magnitude of change. Annual revisions published each spring tend to bring them in to better alignment.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

The unemployment rate for March decreased 0.2 from the previous month to 2.6 percent, matching the lowest rate on record, previously reached in May and June 2022. Unemployment has been below four percent for 16 consecutive months, the fourth longest period on record. Labor force participation and employment to population ratios were little changed in the month.

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 2.8 percent average unemployment rate for January to March was down from 3.1 percent for the three months through December. In that period average labor force participation was little changed.

The unemployment rate for Maine was below U.S. and New England 3.5 and 3.4 percent rates for March.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs changed little in March. The 645,700 jobs were 600 lower than the revised February estimate. The change in jobs was small in nearly all sectors. The most notable over the month job change was a decrease of 500 in manufacturing, which remained close to the 14-year high reached in February.

In the three months through March the number of jobs increased an average of 600 per month over the three months through December. The three-month average was 1.4 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 0.9 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 2.9 percent. Of the 16 counties, rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than that in ten counties, at least 0.3 points lower than that in three, and close to the average in three. The lowest unemployment rates were in Cumberland and Sagadahoc and the highest was in Somerset County.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland (2.3 percent) and close to the average in Bangor (2.6 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (2.9 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 $29.66 per hour in March. Hourly earnings increased 4.1 percent from a year earlier, led by a 7.7 percent gain in manufacturing. 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.


  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 2021 and 2022 revised and previously published estimates is available in this blog.
  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was between 1.8 and 3.4 percent.
  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 variable from month to month because the representativeness of reporting employers can differ. 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