AUGUSTA — Data continues to indicate that Maine’s economy is improving. The Maine Department of Labor’s unemployment claims filings have fallen to their lowest points in more than a decade.

Comparing the four-week average for the same weeks provides the best snapshot of unemployment claims trends over time. For the corresponding period, the four-week average for initial claims is at its lowest average in at least 30 years; the four-week average for initial claims was 883 as of the week ending July 4, 2015. The next lowest four-week initial claims average of 996 was for the period ending July 2, 2005 of the 30-year look-back.

The four-week average for continued claims of 6,912 for the week ending July 4, 2015, is the lowest since the corresponding period of 2000, which had a four-week average of 6,794.

Initial claims are people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time; continuing claims are made up of all people receiving unemployment benefits after having filed and initial claim.

Unemployment claims are following normal seasonal trends, meaning that claims are at their lowest point during the summer months.

The number of people considered “unemployed” as specified in the monthly unemployment rate release is distinct from the number of people filing continued unemployment claims. Unemployed persons are the number of people who are not employed but are actively seeking work. Included are those who are waiting to be called back from a lay off or are waiting to report to a new job within 30 days. 

The average duration of unemployment has dropped by almost a week from May 2014 to May 2015, from 14.5 to 13.8 weeks.

The low unemployment rate, shrinking labor force and increase in hiring will draw out discouraged workers as well as under-employed people as they feel more confident about their ability to be hired.

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