Maine unemployment rate ticked up slightly in August

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Maine’s unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.2 percent in August from 3 percent in July, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted estimates released Friday by the state Department of Labor.

Still, August’s unemployment rate remained lower than a year earlier, when it was 3.4 percent, the department said. The number of unemployed job-seekers in Maine declined by 1,400 over the year to 22,400, it said.

Maine’s unemployment rate has been below 4 percent for 33 consecutive months, the longest period on record.

The 628,300 preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for August was up 5,100 jobs from a year earlier, the department said. The private sector estimate was up by 4,600 jobs to 527,600 total jobs, with gains primarily in the health care, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. Government employment was up by 500 jobs to 100,700 total jobs. Most of that gain was in the federal government, partly at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Maine’s employment-to-population ratio estimate of 61.8 percent in August remained above the U.S. average of 60.3 percent, it said.

Maine’s seasonally unadjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 2.9 percent for August was up slightly from 2.8 percent a year earlier, according to the department. Unemployment was lowest in Sagadahoc County at 2.3 percent, and highest in Aroostook and Washington counties. at 4 percent. For the month of August, unemployment rates were the lowest on record in Franklin and Piscataquis counties, at 3.6 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, it said.

Among Maine metro areas, unemployment rates in August were below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland area at 2.4 percent, and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn and Bangor areas, at 3 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for August was unchanged from July and down from 4.4 percent in August 2017, the department said. The New England average for August was 3.6 percent, with New Hampshire at 2.7 percent, Vermont at 2.8 percent, Massachusetts at 3.6 percent, Rhode Island at 4 percent, and Connecticut at 4.3 percent.

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