November 20, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2019 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
Maine Unemployment Rate 2.8 Percent in October
AUGUSTA -- The Maine Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released October workforce estimates for the state.
Seasonally Adjusted Estimates
Maine Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 2.8 percent for October is little changed from 2.9 percent in August and September and down from 3.5 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed is down 4,900 over the year to 19,500. Maine's unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 46 consecutive months.
Maine Payroll Survey Estimates The preliminary estimate of 633,800 nonfarm payroll jobs in October is up 6,500 from one year ago. The private sector estimate of 533,600 jobs is up 6,600 over the year, with the largest job gains in the leisure and hospitality, retail, manufacturing, and construction sectors. The government estimate of 100,200 jobs has not changed significantly in the last five years. The 15.8 percent share of jobs in government is the lowest on record.
National and Regional Household Survey Estimates The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.6 percent for October is little changed from 3.5 percent in September and from 3.8 percent one year ago. The October estimate for New England was unchanged at 3.0 percent. Rates for other states in the region are 2.6 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 for October. This reflects the fact that Maine has a higher share of retirement age population. (Labor force and unemployment estimates are based on the population age 16 and over.)
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 2.4 percent for October is down from 2.9 percent one year ago. Unemployment estimates are lowest for Sagadahoc County (1.8 percent) and highest for Aroostook County (3.5 percent).
Unemployment rates decreased from one year ago in all 16 counties and are the lowest on record for October in 13 (previous lows for Knox, Aroostook and Lincoln counties were in 1999 or 2000.) Rates are also the lowest on record in each of the metropolitan areas: 2.0 percent in Portland-South Portland, 2.4 percent in Bangor, and 2.5 percent in Lewiston-Auburn.
November estimates will be published Friday, December 20, 2019 at 10 a.m. (Data Release Schedule).
This release is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html
Labor force and unemployment data is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html
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 April each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of 2018 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2018workforcedata_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 https://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.