March 25, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 22, 2019
Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
Maine Unemployment Rate 3.4 Percent in February
AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released February workforce estimates for Maine.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Estimates
Household Survey Estimates: The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 3.4 percent for February is little changed from 3.5 percent in each of the last six months and from 3.2 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed increased 1,900 over the year to 24,100. Maine's unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 38 consecutive months, the longest period on record.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.8 percent for February was down slightly from 4.0 percent for January and 4.1 percent one year ago.
The New England unemployment rate estimate for February was 3.2 percent, with New Hampshire 2.4 percent, Vermont 2.4 percent, Massachusetts 3.0 percent, Rhode Island 3.9 percent, and Connecticut 3.8 percent.
The employment to population ratio estimate of 60.9 percent remained above the 60.7 percent U.S. average.
Payroll Survey Estimates: The 634,400 preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for February was up 4,400 from one year ago. The private sector estimate was up 3,700 to 533,700, with gains primarily in the hospitality and manufacturing sectors. The government estimate was up 700 to 100,700 jobs.
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.9 percent for February was little changed from 4.0 percent one year ago. Unemployment was lowest in Cumberland County (2.7 percent) and highest in Washington County (6.3 percent).
Among Metro areas, the unemployment rate was below the statewide average in Portland-South Portland (2.9 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (3.6 percent) and close to the average in Bangor (3.9 percent).
March estimates will be published Friday, April 19. (Data Release Schedule).
This release is available here..
Labor force and unemployment data is available here.
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available here.
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.
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 http://labor/cwri/blogs/2017workforcedata_revisions.pdf .
The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2019 is 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate each month.
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 http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf.
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 2018 to September 2019 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2020. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.