Maine unemployment rate 7.2 percent in November

Dec 21, 2012

Augusta — The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate for Maine was 7.2 percent in November, down slightly from 7.4 percent in October and little change from 7.1 percent one year ago.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 51,300 were unemployed, up 900 over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate was estimated at 7.7 percent, down slightly from 7.9 percent in October and down from 8.7 percent one year ago.

Maine continued to have a higher rate of labor force participation than the nation. Understanding differences in labor force participation is important when comparing unemployment rates. Labor force participation is the share of the population working or actively seeking work — jobless people not looking for work are not in the labor force and not counted as unemployed.

If Maine’s labor force participation were as low as the U.S. average, the unemployment rate would be 5.4 percent; if U.S. participation were as high as the Maine average, the national unemployment rate would be 9.9 percent.

Because differences in labor force participation skew unemployment rates so much, it is more instructive to look at the share of the population that is employed when comparing workforce conditions to the nation. Maine had a higher share of employed population than the nation (60.5 percent compared to 58.7 percent for the U.S.) for the 62nd consecutive month in November.

The unemployment rate estimate for New England was 7.3 percent; estimates for other states were 5.6 percent in New Hampshire, 5.2 percent in Vermont, 6.6 percent in Massachusetts, 10.4 percent in Rhode Island and 8.8 percent in Connecticut.

Preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate there were 594,300 non-farm payroll jobs in November, down 1,000 from the revised October estimate. The estimate of U.S. non-farm payroll jobs was up 146,000.

When using non-farm payroll jobs estimates, it is important to know that they tend to be volatile from month to month. When estimates for the period from July 2011 to September 2012 are replaced with actual payroll data, they will show less volatility and also will indicate a general trend of job growth since the middle of 2011.

The not-seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 7 percent in November, up from 6.8 percent one year ago. Not seasonally adjusted rates ranged from 5.5 percent in Cumberland County to 9.6 percent in Piscataquis County. Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and central counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (5.7 percent), Bangor (6.6 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (6.7 percent).

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