March 24, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2017
Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
The Maine Department of Labor, in conjunction with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released February workforce estimates for Maine.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data
Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent was down from 3.5 percent in January and 3.7 percent one year ago. This was the lowest rate since December 2000. The number of unemployed was down 3,000 over the year to 22,400. The unemployment rate was below 4 percent in 13 of the last 16 months, only the third such period in the last 40 years.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.7 percent was little changed from 4.8 percent in January and 4.9 percent one year ago.
The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.6 percent remained above the U.S. average of 60.0 percent.
The New England unemployment rate averaged 3.7 percent. Rates for other states in the region were 2.7 percent in New Hampshire, 3.0 percent in Vermont, 3.4 percent in Massachusetts, 4.5 percent in Rhode Island, and 4.7 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 620,200 for February was up 2,900 from one year ago. The largest job gains were in the construction and healthcare sectors.
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 3.9 percent for February was down from 4.7 percent one year ago. Rates declined over the year in all counties. The lowest rate was 2.7 percent in Cumberland County and the highest was 7.0 percent in Washington County.
Unemployment rates were lower than the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland (2.9 percent), Lewiston-Auburn (3.4 percent), and Bangor (3.7 percent).
March estimates will be released on Friday, April 21 (Data Release Schedule: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html ).
This release is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.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 2017 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 2016 to September 2017 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2018. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.