Employment Situation in Maine - November 2021 Bookmark and Share

December 17, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2021

Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

Employment Situation in Maine - November 2021

AUGUSTA There was little change in workforce conditions in the month:

  • The number of nonfarm payroll jobs was little changed
  • The 4.8 percent unemployment rate has essentially been unchanged since February

Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Estimates Nonfarm payroll jobs were little changed in November, down 1,100 to 613,100 after an upward revision of 700 to the October estimate. The number of jobs has essentially been unchanged since summer and is similar to levels in the spring. The recent flatness is similar to what occurred during previous surges in coronavirus case counts last fall and this spring.

Jobs were little changed or up slightly in most sectors in November. The exceptions were in healthcare and social assistance, which shed 1,300 jobs, mostly in hospitals and offices of practitioners, and in construction, which added 400 jobs.

In November there were 4.2 percent fewer jobs (26,900) than in February 2020, before the virus impacted the labor market. Half of the net decrease in those 21 months was in the leisure and hospitality sector, one quarter was in state and local governments, and 20 percent in healthcare and social assistance. The net decrease in hospitality jobs was mostly in restaurants and bars, and in government was mostly in K-12 and higher education. The net decrease in healthcare and social assistance was almost entirely in social assistance and in nursing and residential care facilities through this summer. Since summer it has mostly been in hospitals.

Labor Force and Unemployment Estimates The unemployment rate was little changed in November at 4.8 percent, representing 32,900 job seekers. It has been 4.8 or 4.9 percent for ten consecutive months. The labor force participation rate was 60.3 percent. It has remained between 60.1 and 60.4 percent for the last eight months.

The unemployment rate in November was 1.7 percentage points higher and the labor force participation rate was 2.3 points lower than in February 2020. The decrease in employment since then is partially reflected in the 11,300 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 4.2 and 5.1 percent in November. Rates for other states in the region were 2.7 percent in New Hampshire, 2.6 percent in Vermont, 5.4 percent in Massachusetts, 5.1 percent in Rhode Island, and 6.0 percent in Connecticut.

Substate Not Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for November was down from 4.7 percent one year ago. Unemployment rates were lowest in Sagadahoc County (3.5 percent) and highest in Somerset County (6.1 percent).

Unemployment rates were below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland metro area (3.8 percent), and close to the average in the Bangor metro (4.1 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (4.5 percent) metros.

December workforce estimates will be released Tuesday, January 25 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 https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2021workforcedata_revisions.pdf

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates for November is 0.9 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 https://www.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.