Maine continues record low-unemployment streak

November 19, 2019

Maine’s record streak of low unemployment continued in October, the 46th consecutive month in which the statewide unemployment rate has been below 4 percent.

The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 2.8 percent for October is down from 2.9 percent in September and 3.5 percent in October 2018, according to a state Department of Labor report issued Tuesday. Preliminary estimates can change slightly when more information from employer surveys becomes available.

The number of unemployed job-seekers decreased by 4,900 in October from a year earlier to 19,500, the report said.

Maine’s unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for more than twice as long as the previous record duration of 22 months from September 1999 to July 2001. A decade ago, the state unemployment rate had surpassed 8 percent as a result of the Great Recession.

More recently, state’s persistently low unemployment rate has led to an enduring labor crunch, making it difficult for businesses around the state to hire needed workers. The rate of job openings in Maine has been higher than in any year since at least 2001, according to the Labor Department.

Maine’s preliminary payroll survey estimate of 633,800 nonfarm payroll jobs for October was up 6,500 jobs from a year earlier, the department said. The private sector estimate of 533,600 jobs was up 6,600 over the year, with the largest job gains in the leisure and hospitality, retail, manufacturing and construction sectors. The estimate of 100,200 government jobs has not changed significantly over the past five years, it said.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment estimate of 3.6 percent for October is up slightly from 3.5 in September and down slightly from 3.8 percent in October 2018. The October estimate for New England is unchanged from September at 3 percent. Estimates for other states in the region are 2.6 percent in New Hampshire, 2.2 percent in Vermont, 2.9 percent in Massachusetts, 3.6 percent in Rhode Island and 3.6 percent in Connecticut.