PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s unemployment rate rose slightly in August to 5.6 percent, up from 5.5 percent one month earlier. It’s the first rise in preliminary estimates since one year ago, though unemployment has fallen over the long term.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates put the percentage of job seekers who can’t find work down 1 percentage point from a year ago, representing about 7,400 more people who are working. One year ago, the state’s unemployment rate was 6.6 percent.

The change comes as the national unemployment rate fell slightly from 6.2 percent in July to 6.1 percent in August.

The average unemployment rate for New England was 5.9 percent, with Vermont (4.1 percent) and New Hampshire (4.4 percent) at lower rates of unemployment than Maine. The jobless rate for Massachusetts was at 5.8 percent, Connecticut at 6.6 percent and Rhode Island at 7.7 percent in August.

Estimates of payroll jobs rose slightly to 611,300, continuing a long-term trend of growth, up 8,100 jobs from last year. That change reflects an estimated gain of 9,400 private sector jobs and decline of 1,300 government jobs, according to the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Information and Research. Government jobs make up their lowest share of the total job market in 30 years at 16.2 percent, according to CWRI.

Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.