An early 2011 jump in Maine employment numbers that state officials maintained never actually happened has disappeared now that the federal government has verified estimates with actual company data.
The January 2011 figures from the federal government showed a massive spike in the number of employed people, followed in February by a big drop. The federal estimates typically are “benchmarked” with company data more than a year later.
That has happened, and January 2011’s employment numbers dropped by about 8,000 jobs, effectively wiping out that jump.
The numbers became an issue earlier this year when the Maine Center for Economic Policy looked at the data and suggested that Maine lost more jobs per capita in 2011 than any other state in the nation. The center’s report took into account the high January 2011 numbers, compared to December 2011.
The new data, released this week by the U.S. Department of Labor, detail benchmarked numbers from October 2010 through June 2011.
“Those are good, real, hard numbers,” said Glen Mills, director of economic research at the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research & Information.
Months after June 2011 will be benchmarked a year from now, he said.
The last bit of data that spans for a year and contains benchmarked employment numbers would be from June 2010 to June 2011, said Mills. In June 2010, there were 592,500 people employed in Maine, compared with 591,900 in June 2011, a drop of 600.
From a statistical standpoint, that’s essentially flat, Mills said.
“It’s so close, there’s effectively no difference,” Mills said.
In a release this week, the Maine Center for Economic Policy pointed out the new federal data “confirm that Maine lagged behind most other states in per capita job growth in 2011.” The state, the release noted, lost 1,300 jobs from January 2011 to December 2011. A total of nine states lost jobs during this period, and Maine ranked 45th in per-capita job growth.
“The revised jobs data confirms that Maine has not performed as well as other states in the last year,” MECEP Executive Director Garrett Martin said in the release. “The final [Bureau of Labor Statistics] figures also bring into sharper focus the need for the state to act decisively to encourage stronger job creation.
“One immediate action the Legislature can take before it adjourns next month is to pass a robust bond package for transportation, public works and communications infrastructure, education, research and development, small business loans and other investments that will create jobs and improve Maine’s competitive edge,” Martin said.
Mills, however, noted that the only benchmarked numbers end in June 2011. The December 2011 numbers cited by MECEP aren’t yet benchmarked with hard data, he said.