The Employment Situation in Maine - May 2022 Bookmark and Share

June 17, 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 17, 2022 Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192

The Employment Situation in Maine - May 2022

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs decreased by 2,900 in May and the estimate for April was revised lower. The 3.2 percent unemployment rate was the lowest since before the pandemic. The two surveys provided contrary indications this month, which sometimes happens, even at the national level with much larger survey panels.

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 by industry sector on the number of jobs, hours worked, and wages paid to individuals on their payrolls.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

The 3.2 percent unemployment rate was little changed from April's 3.3 percent and was the lowest in 26 months. The 59.0 percent labor force participation rate and the 57.1 percent employment-to-population ratio were unchanged 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. The 3.4 percent average unemployment rate for March to May was 0.7 percentage points lower than in the three months through February. In that period the average labor force participation ticked down and the employment-to-population ratio ticked up.

U.S. and New England unemployment rates for May each were 3.6 percent.

Statewide Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Jobs Estimates

Total nonfarm wage and salary jobs decreased 2,900 in May to 635,100, after a downward revision of 1,300 jobs for the April estimate. In May jobs decreased in the leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and financial activities sectors; jobs increased in professional and business services.

In the three-months through May the state gained an average of 2,100 jobs per month over the previous three months through February. Despite a sharp decrease in May, the leisure and hospitality sector had the largest gain in that period, followed by the healthcare and social assistance and the professional and business services sectors.

The three-month average of jobs matched the average for 2019, the last full year before the pandemic. Compared to 2019, private sector jobs averaged 0.6 percent higher and government jobs averaged 3.1 percent lower.

County and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Labor Force Estimates

Among the 16 counties in the state, unemployment rates were at least 0.3 percentage points higher than the not seasonally-adjusted statewide average of 3.0 percent in six, at least 0.3 points lower in three, and close to the average in seven. Unemployment rates ranged from a low of 2.5 percent in Cumberland and Sagadahoc counties to a high of 4.9 percent in Aroostook County.

Among the three metro areas of the state, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-S. Portland (2.6 percent) and close to the average in Bangor (2.8 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (3.0 percent).

(For substate areas, labor force estimates, including unemployment rates, are not seasonally adjusted. Because of this, estimates for a certain month should be compared to the same month in other years and should not be compared to other months.)

Statewide and Metro Area Not Seasonally Adjusted Hours and Earnings Estimates

Private sector hours and hourly earnings averaged 34.1 and $28.87 in May. Private sector hourly earnings increased an average of 7.3 percent from a year earlier, led by a 12 percent gain in leisure and hospitality earnings. The work week was longest in manufacturing and shortest in leisure and hospitality. Earnings were highest in professional and business services and lowest in leisure and hospitality.

Hourly earnings were higher than the statewide average in the Portland-S. Portland metro and lower in Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn.

This news release is available in a more accessible format -

June workforce estimates will be released Friday, July 22 at 10 a.m. The data release schedule is here -

Nonfarm jobs data is available here -

Unemployment and labor force data is 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 May was between 2.4 and 3.9.

  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.

Maine CareerCenters and Maine Department of Labor are equal opportunity providers. Auxiliary aids and services are available to individuals with disabilities upon request.