Employment Situation in Maine - October 2021 Bookmark and Share

November 19, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2021

Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

Employment Situation in Maine - October 2021

AUGUSTA There was little change in workforce conditions in October:

  • Nonfarm payroll jobs increased 900 in October
  • Unemployment and labor force participation rates were little changed at 4.9 and 60.4 percent

Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Estimates The number of nonfarm payroll jobs increased by 900 to 613,700 in October and the estimate for September was revised up by 800. A gain of 1,500 private sector jobs in the month, mostly in the manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors, was partially offset by a decrease of 600 jobs in government, mostly in local governments. Except for a rise in June and July, the number of jobs has been relatively unchanged since March.

Over the last year the number of payroll jobs increased 12,700. The largest gains were in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, and manufacturing sectors.

In October there were 26,400 fewer jobs than in February 2020, before the virus impacted the labor market. Half of that decrease was in the leisure and hospitality sector, one quarter was in state and local governments (mostly K-12 and higher education), and 15 percent in healthcare and social assistance.

Labor Force and Unemployment Estimates The unemployment rate was little changed in October at 4.9 percent, representing 33,100 job seekers. The unemployment rate has been 4.8 or 4.9 percent each of the last nine months. The 60.4 percent labor force participation rate was unchanged.

The unemployment rate in October was 1.8 percentage points higher and the labor force participation rate was 2.2 points lower than in February 2020. The decrease in employment since then is partially reflected in the 11,400 increase in the number of unemployed. The remainder of the decrease in employment is reflected in lower labor force participation.

U.S and New England Unemployment Rates The U.S. and New England unemployment rates were 4.6 and 5.2 percent in October. Rates for other states in the region were 2.9 percent in New Hampshire, 2.8 percent in Vermont, 5.3 percent in Massachusetts, 5.4 percent in Rhode Island, and 6.4 percent in Connecticut.

Substate Not Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate of 4.0 percent for October was down slightly from 4.2 percent one year ago. Unemployment rates were lowest in Sagadahoc County (3.2 percent) and highest in Somerset County (5.9 percent).

Unemployment rates were below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland metro area (3.6 percent), close to the average in the Bangor metro (3.9 percent), and above the average in the Lewiston-Auburn metro (4.3 percent).

November workforce estimates will be released Friday, December 17 at 10 a.m. (Data Release Schedule - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html).

Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and Information and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  1. Preliminary seasonally-adjusted 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 2020 preliminary and revised estimates of labor force and unemployment rates, as well as nonfarm payroll jobs, is available at maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2021workforcedata_revisions.pdf

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates for October is 0.8 percentage points above or below the published estimate.

  3. To assess job growth, we recommend looking at nonfarm jobs from the payroll survey rather than at resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger, has smaller margins of error, and is subject to smaller revisions. A 2016 blog on the differences in accuracy of the two measures provides more context at maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf

  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, holidays, 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 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 April 2020 to September 2021 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2022. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates do.