The Employment Situation in Maine - October 2023 Bookmark and Share

November 17, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2023

Contact: Glenn Mills, 207-530-2079

The Employment Situation in Maine - October 2023

Nonfarm jobs increased 1,100 to an all-time high and the 2.8 percent unemployment rate remained below the long-term average.

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 2.8 percent unemployment rate was little changed from 2.7 percent for September. Unemployment has been below four percent for 23 consecutive months the second longest period. The October rate is about half the monthly average since 1976.

Three-month averages smooth some of the variability in sample-based estimates and reflect revisions for previous months. The 2.7 percent average unemployment rate for August to October was up from 2.4 percent for the three months through July. The increase in unemployment in that period was from a somewhat larger increase in labor force participation than in employment.

October unemployment rates for the U.S. and New England were 3.9 and 2.8 percent.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates

Nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased 1,100 to 650,300, an all-time high. This follows a larger than usual upward revision for September. Job gains over the last two months break a pattern of little change previously in 2023. Close to half of the October increase was in retail trade, with small changes in other sectors. Jobs increased by 8,900 from one year ago and the average for August to October increased 3,700 from the three months through July.

County and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

On a not seasonally adjusted basis the statewide unemployment rate was 2.6 percent. Of the 16 counties, rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than that in six counties, at least 0.3 points lower than that in one, and close to the average in nine. Rates were lowest in Sagadahoc and highest in Piscataquis counties.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland and close to the average in Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn. (Labor force estimates for substate areas, 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 in the same or other years.)

Statewide and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Hours and Earnings Estimates

The private sector workweek averaged 33.6 hours and earnings averaged $30.48 per hour in October. Average hours decreased 0.2 and hourly earnings increased 3.7 percent from a year earlier. Earnings increases were led by a 11.4 percent gain in manufacturing. The workweek was longest in construction 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 slightly 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 October was between 2.1 and 3.5 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 previously published estimates.