April 20, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2018
Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
AUGUSTA – The unemployment rate in Maine was the lowest since the current methodology was implemented in 1976. The last time it could have been this low was 1957, when Dwight Eisenhower was President and Ed Muskie was Governor. The total number of unemployed people was the lowest since 1969, when the labor force was only 57 percent as large as it is today.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data
Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 2.7 percent for March was down slightly from 2.9 percent for February and from 3.3 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed declined 4,000 over the year to 19,100. Maine’s unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 28 consecutive months, the longest period on record.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.1 percent for March has been unchanged for six months; it is down from 4.7 percent one year ago. The New England average was 3.6 percent.
March unemployment estimates for other states in the region were 2.6 percent in New Hampshire, 2.8 percent in Vermont, 3.5 percent in Massachusetts, 4.5 percent in Rhode Island, and 4.5 percent in Connecticut.
The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.6 percent remained above the 60.4 percent U.S. average.
Payroll Survey Estimates – The 627,000 preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for March was up 2,900 from one year ago. Private sector jobs were up 3,000 to 527,000; gains were primarily in the healthcare and social assistance and the professional and business services sectors. The number of jobs in government was little changed, down 100 to 100,000. Government comprised 15.9 percent of nonfarm jobs, the lowest share on record.
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.1 percent for March was down from 3.8 percent one year ago. Unemployment rates were the lowest on record for March in all counties. The lowest rate was 2.3 percent in Cumberland County and the highest was 4.6 percent in Washington County.
The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (2.4 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (2.8 percent) metro areas and matched the statewide average in the Bangor metro (3.1 percent).
April workforce estimates will be released Friday, May 18 (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 .
Labor force and unemployment data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .
Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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. A comparison of 2017 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2017workforcedata_revisions.pdf.
The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2018 is 0.6 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 www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf .
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 2017 to September 2018 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2019. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.