Maine Unemployment Rate 2.9 Percent in September Bookmark and Share

October 18, 2019


Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

Maine Unemployment Rate 2.9 Percent in September

AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released August workforce estimates for Maine.

Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

Maine Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 2.9 percent for September is unchanged from August and down from 3.5 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed is down 4,600 over the year to 19,700. Maine's unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 45 consecutive months.

Maine Payroll Survey Estimates - The preliminary estimate of 632,100 nonfarm payroll jobs in September is up 3,200 from one year ago. The private sector estimate of 531,800 jobs is up 3,100 over the year, with the largest job gains in the retail trade and manufacturing sectors. The government estimate of 100,300 jobs has not changed significantly in the last five years.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.5 percent for September is down slightly from 3.7 percent for August and from 3.8 percent one year ago. The September estimate for New England is 3.0 percent. Rates for other states in the region are 2.5 percent in New Hampshire, 2.2 percent in Vermont, 2.9 percent in Massachusetts, 3.6 percent in Rhode Island, and 3.6 percent in Connecticut.

The employment to population ratio estimate for Maine of 60.5 percent is slightly lower than the 61.0 percent U.S. average.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 2.3 percent for September is down from 2.8 percent one year ago. Unemployment estimates are lowest for Sagadahoc County (1.8 percent) and highest for Aroostook, Somerset and Washington counties (3.3 percent).

Unemployment rates are the lowest on record for September in 14 of the 16 counties. (The previous low for Lincoln County was in 1999 and the low for Aroostook county was in 2000.) Rates are also the lowest on record in each of the metropolitan areas: 1.9 percent in Portland-South Portland, 2.3 percent in Bangor, and 2.4 percent in Lewiston-Auburn.

October estimates will be published Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 10 a.m. (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.


  1. 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 April each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of 2018 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

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