Unemployment rates fell in three-quarters of large U.S. cities in October, a sign that the job market is picking up broadly across the country.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that unemployment rates fell in 281 metro areas. They rose in 57 and were unchanged in 34. That’s slightly better than September’s showing and is the largest number of cities to report a drop since April.
Unemployment in Maine’s three largest cities fell. Bangor fell from 6.9 percent in October 2010 to 6.1 percent in 2011; Lewiston-Auburn from 7.3 to 6.7; and Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, from 5.7 to 5.5. Overall, Maine’s unemployment dropped from an average of 6.9 percent in 2010 to 6.6 percent in 2011.
The metro area unemployment data aren’t adjusted for seasonal variations, such as hiring for the winter holidays, and so they can be volatile.
Nationwide, the unemployment rate was unchanged in October at 9 percent. Last week, the government said the nationwide rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest level in 2½ years. Employers added about 120,000 net jobs. Still, a big reason the unemployment rate fell was because more people said they have given up on their job searches and dropped out of the work force.