The Employment Situation in Maine - February 2022 Bookmark and Share

March 25, 2022


Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

The Employment Situation in Maine - February 2022

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 3,200 in February; jobs increased by an average of 7,600 in the three months from December to February over the prior three-month period through November. The unemployment rate was little changed at 4.0 percent in February and averaged 4.1 percent in the three-months through February.

This news release presents estimates derived from two monthly surveys. The Current Population Survey collects information from households on labor force status, including labor force participation, employment, and unemployment. The Current Employment Statistics survey collects information from employers on the number of jobs, hours worked, and wages paid to individuals on their payrolls by industry sector.

Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates, Statewide

In February, the 4.0 percent unemployment rate and 26,900 unemployed people were little changed from January. The 59.3 percent labor force participation rate and the 56.9 percent employment-to-population ratio also were little changed in the month.

Three-month averages generally provide a better indication of workforce conditions as they smooth some of the variability in sample-based estimates, and they reflect revisions to estimates for previous months. Averages for December to February generally decreased from the prior three-month period for the unemployment rate (-0.3 percentage points) and the labor force participation rate (-0.2 points); the employment-to-population ratio was unchanged.

U.S. and New England unemployment rates for February were 3.8 and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Seasonally Adjusted Payroll Jobs Estimates, Statewide

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased 3,200 in February to 634,800. The largest job gains were in healthcare and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, and construction. The three-month average of jobs through February increased 7,600 from the three-month period through November. Nearly half of the gain in that period was in leisure and hospitality, and one quarter was in the combination of retail trade and state and local governments, primarily K-12 and higher education, as those sectors continue to recover from some of the sharpest job losses at the beginning of the pandemic.

The three-month average of jobs through February was higher than the pre-pandemic average for 2019 in the professional and business services, construction, manufacturing, and educational services sectors, as well as the federal government; it was lower in the healthcare and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, information, retail trade, and transportation, warehousing, and utilities sectors, as well as in state and local governments.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates, Substate Areas

Unemployment rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than the not seasonally-adjusted statewide average of 4.2 percent in ten counties, at least 0.3 points lower in four counties, and close to the average in two counties. Unemployment rates ranged from a low of 3.0 percent in Cumberland County to a high of 7.3 percent in Washington County.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in the Portland-S. Portland (3.3 percent), and Bangor areas (3.7 percent), and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (4.0 percent) area.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Hours and Earnings Estimates, Statewide and Metro Areas

Private sector hours averaged 34.0 and hourly earnings averaged $28.85 in February. The average work week was longest in manufacturing and shortest in leisure and hospitality. Hourly earnings were highest in professional and business services and lowest in leisure and hospitality.

Average hourly earnings were higher than the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland, slightly lower than the average in Lewiston-Auburn, and below the average in the Bangor metro.

Private sector average hourly earnings increased 7.7 percent in the 12-months through February. The leisure and hospitality sector had both the highest rate of increase in hourly earnings and, along with education and healthcare, the largest increase in hours worked over the year.

March workforce estimates will be released Friday, April 15 at 10 a.m. The data release schedule is here

Nonfarm jobs data is available here

Unemployment and labor force data, as well as accessible graphs and charts, are available here


  1. Preliminary seasonally-adjusted labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed), as well as nonfarm wage and salary job estimates are inexact. Annual revisions (published in March each year) add accuracy. A comparison of 2020 and 2021 revised and previously published estimates is available in this blog.
  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for the statewide seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was between 3.1 and 4.8.
  3. Nonfarm wage and salary jobs from the payroll survey provide a better indication of changes in employment than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger and has smaller margins of error.
  4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because of variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness of all employers. Seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters, 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 changes in jobs estimates. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Jobs estimates for the period from April 2021 to September 2022 will be replaced with payroll data in March 2023. Those benchmark revisions usually show less monthly variability than preliminary estimates do.