July 15, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 15, 2015
Media Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, Department of Labor, 207-621-5009
AUGUSTA—Data continues to indicate that Maine’s economy is improving. The Maine Department of Labor’s unemployment claims filings have fallen to their lowest points in more than a decade.
“Fewer unemployment claims mean that not only are fewer people being laid off due to a lack of work, but also that people who are out of work are finding jobs more quickly,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “This news is encouraging, and we continue to see signs of an improving economy. But we are not yet at full employment statewide, so there is more work to do. We must do all we can to make the changes that will make Maine more competitive and grow our economy. That is why I have focused on lowering taxes and energy costs so Maine not only retains our existing businesses, but also attracts new businesses to our state to create more jobs and prosperity.”
Comparing the four-week average for the same weeks provides the best snapshot of unemployment claims trends over time. For the corresponding period, the four-week average for initial claims is at its lowest average in at least 30 years; the four-week average for initial claims was 883 as of the week ending July 4, 2015. The next lowest four-week initial claims average of 996 was for the period ending July 2, 2005 of the 30-year look-back.
The four-week average for continued claims of 6,912 for the week ending July 4, 2015, is the lowest since the corresponding period of 2000, which had a four-week average of 6,794.
Initial claims are people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time; continuing claims are made up of all people received unemployment benefits after having filed and initial claim.
Unemployment claims are following normal seasonal trends, meaning that claims are at their lowest point during the summer months.
The number of people considered “unemployed” as specified in the monthly unemployment rate release is distinct from the number of people filing continued unemployment claims. Unemployed persons are the number of people who are not employed but are actively seeking work. Included are those who are waiting to be called back from a lay off or are waiting to report to a new job within 30 days. Most individuals filing unemployment claims would fall into the category unemployed, but not all unemployed individuals file claims for benefits. Both figures generally move in the same direction, though claims are more volatile.
The highlighted area of the second chart illustrates that the over-the-year change in unemployed (red line) is more steadily declining than claims. Unemployed was down more than continued claims in 14 of the last 24 months, April and May 2015 among the exceptions.
The average duration of unemployment has dropped by almost a week from May 2014 to May 2015, from 14.5 to 13.8 weeks. The low unemployment rate, shrinking labor force, and increasing hiring will draw out discouraged workers as well as under-employed people as they feel more confident about their ability to be hired.
More information about unemployment rates and data about initial and continued claims can be found at the website of the department’s Center for Workforce Research and Information, http://maine.gov/labor/cwri .
The over-the-year change in unemployed (red line) is more steadily declining than claims. The number of unemployed was down more than continued claims in 14 of the last 24 months, April and May 2015 among the exceptions.