Maine jobless rate hits 8 percent in February

Posted March 26, 2009, at 2:19 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Labor Department says the state’s unemployment rate rose to 8 percent in February, the first time it’s been that high since May 1991.

Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said Thursday that preliminary figures show an increase of 0.3 percentage points from January’s 7.7 percent rate. The national unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in February.

Fortman said labor market conditions continued to weaken nationally and in Maine between January and February as the number of non-farm jobs declined and the unemployment rate rose.

Between January and February, there was a net decline of 2,600 non-farm jobs in Maine. The most substantial losses were recorded by retail trade, health care, government and social assistance and construction.