Maine Unemployment Rate 3.5 Percent in May Bookmark and Share

June 17, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2016 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

The Maine Department of Labor, in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released May workforce estimates for Maine.

Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data

Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.5 percent was little changed from 3.4 percent in April and down from 4.5 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed declined 6,600 over the year to 23,800.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.7 percent was down from 5.0 percent in April and 5.5 percent one year ago.

The employment to population ratio estimate of 59.9 percent was close to the U.S. average.

The New England unemployment rate averaged 4.4 percent. Rates for other states were 2.7 percent in New Hampshire, 3.1 percent in Vermont, 4.2 percent in Massachusetts, 5.4 percent in Rhode Island, and 5.7 percent in Connecticut.

Labor force and unemployment data is available at .

Payroll Survey Estimates – The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate of 611,800 for May was up 1,600 from one year ago. Private sector jobs were up 2,400, primarily in the educational services, healthcare, manufacturing, and finance sectors. The estimate of 98,200 government jobs was down 800 to the lowest level since 2000.

Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at .

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.6 percent for May was down from 4.4 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates were down over the year in all 16 counties, with the largest decline in Somerset County (-1.6 points). Rates ranged from 2.7 percent in Sagadahoc County to 6.0 percent in Aroostook County.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (2.8 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (3.4 percent) metro areas and the same as the average in the Bangor metro (3.6 percent).

June estimates will be released on Friday, July 22 (Data Release Schedule: ).

This release is available at .


  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 March each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns.

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2016 is 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 2015 to September 2016 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2017. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.