September 20, 2016
News Release FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 20, 2016 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
AUGUSTA--The Maine Department of Labor, in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released August workforce estimates for Maine.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data
Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4.0 percent was little changed from 3.9 percent in July and up from the recent low of 3.4 percent in March and April. The unemployment rate was down from 4.3 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed declined 1,400 over the year to 27,800.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.9 percent was unchanged from July and down from 5.1 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 60.5 percent was above the U.S. average of 59.7 percent. The New England unemployment rate averaged 4.2 percent. Rates for other states were 3.0 percent in New Hampshire, 3.3 percent in Vermont, 3.9 percent in Massachusetts, 5.6 percent in Rhode Island, and 5.6 percent in Connecticut.
Labor force and unemployment data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .
Payroll Survey Estimates – The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate of 616,000 for August was up 4,700 from one year ago. Private sector jobs were up 6,200, primarily in the education, healthcare, hospitality, manufacturing, finance, and professional services sectors. The estimate of 98,900 government jobs was down 1,500.
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.3 percent for August was down slightly from 3.5 percent one year ago. Rates ranged from 2.7 percent in Cumberland, Knox, and Sagadahoc to 4.9 percent in Somerset and Piscataquis Counties. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and coastal counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.
The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (2.7 percent) metro area and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.2 percent) and Bangor (3.6 percent) metros.
September estimates will be released on Friday, October 21 (Data Release Schedule: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html ).
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.
The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2016 is 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate each month.
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 http://cwri.blogspot.com/2016/04/reports-that-maine-is-losing-jobs-are.html
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.