AUGUSTA — Republican Gov. Paul LePage touted the fact that Maine’s unemployment rate in June remained at 6.8 percent, which is the lowest since the recession struck in November 2008, as an indication that his fiscal policies are boosting Maine’s private sector.
LePage said new data show the unemployment rate stood at 6.8 percent in June, which is the same rate the Department of Labor reported for May. That’s down from 7.3 percent one year ago. Seasonally adjusted figures from the Department of Labor estimated that the ranks of employed workers increased by about 13,750 since January 2011, when LePage took office. LePage said in a written statement Thursday that about 8,000 more people are employed in the private sector than when he was elected.
“Our focus on helping to create jobs and improving the economy is putting more Mainers back to work and that is good news for everyone,” said LePage. “These numbers are good news, but we must keep working to improve the business climate, help create more jobs and let Mainers keep more of their hard-earned money.”
Data released last month by the Pew Charitable Trust contradict LePage’s characterization of the state’s jobs outlook. Maine was one of only three states (along with Wisconsin and Wyoming) to lose private-sector jobs between April 2012 and April 2013, according to data released June 14 by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Maine’s second-from-last ranking was caused by the loss of 1,500 jobs for a drop of about 0.3 percent, according to the trust, which analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wyoming lost the same number of jobs, but its smaller population ranked it dead last.
By comparison, the trust said New Hampshire gained 6,100 jobs for a 1 percent increase; Massachusetts, 46,200 jobs for a 1.4 percent increase; Connecticut, 10,800 jobs for a 0.7 percent increase; and Rhode Island, 21,800 jobs for a 0.6 percent increase.