Maine Unemployment Rate 3.9 Percent in July Bookmark and Share

August 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 19, 2016 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

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

Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data

Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent was up from 3.7 percent in June and from the recent low of 3.4 percent in March and April. The unemployment rate was down from 4.4 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed declined 3,100 over the year to 26,600.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.9 percent was unchanged from June and down from 5.3 percent one year ago.

The recent rise in unemployment estimates should not be interpreted as an indication workforce conditions in Maine are deteriorating. Other metrics, including payroll jobs, indicate continued improvement and expansion. As we point out each month in note 1 (below), preliminary estimates 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.

The employment to population ratio estimate of 60.2 percent was slightly above the U.S. average 59.7 percent.

The New England unemployment rate averaged 4.3 percent. Rates for other states were 2.9 percent in New Hampshire, 3.2 percent in Vermont, 4.1 percent in Massachusetts, 5.5 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 618,100 for July was up 5,900 from one year ago. Private sector jobs were up 7,500, primarily in the retail, finance, education, healthcare, professional and business services, and hospitality sectors. The estimate of 99,100 government jobs was down 1,600.

Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at .

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.7 percent for July was down from 4.0 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates were down over the year in all but Franklin County, where it was unchanged. The largest decline occurred in Waldo County (-1.1 points). Rates ranged from 3.0 percent in Cumberland, Knox, and Sagadahoc to 5.3 percent in Somerset.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (3.0 percent) metro area and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.7 percent) and Bangor (3.9 percent) metros.

August estimates will be released on Tuesday, September 20 (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.