Maine’s unemployment figures better than national rate for July

Posted Aug. 17, 2012, at 6:09 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 17, 2012, at 8:43 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s unemployment rate in July was 7.6 percent, slightly higher than June, but unchanged from the same month last year, according to preliminary estimates released today by the Maine Department of Labor.

Maine continues to have lower unemployment rates, higher rates of labor force participation and a higher share of population that is employed than the nation, according to the labor department. Nationally, the unemployment rate in July was 8.3 percent, down from 9.1 percent in the same month last year.

Compared to its New England neighbors, Maine had a higher unemployment rate than Vermont’s 5 percent and Massachusetts’ 6.1 percent. But it beat Rhode Island and Connecticut, which had unemployment rates of 10.8 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.

The estimated number of Maine’s nonfarm payroll jobs — a term used by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to represent all workers who receive some sort of wage, excluding government employees, household employees, many nonprofit employees and farm employees — in July was 595,500, up 1,800 from the revised June estimate, according to data from the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information. Four years ago, in July 2008, Maine’s total number of nonfarm payroll jobs was 619,200, only 3.8 percent higher than last month’s total, according to the center’s figures.

The small gain in jobs was driven by the retail trade, leisure and hospitality, health care, and professional and business services sectors, according to the CWRI. However, those gains were partly offset by declines in state and local government jobs.

Among Maine’s metropolitan areas, the unemployment rate was below the statewide average in Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (6.1 percent) and higher than the statewide average in Bangor (8.2 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (7.9 percent).

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