That translates to 5,400 fewer jobless than this time last year, according to the Maine Department of Labor. The state further notes that Maine’s unemployment rate is below the national average and the New England average: “The U.S. unemployment rate estimate was 7.0 percent, down from 7.3 percent in October and 7.8 percent one year ago. The New England estimate was 6.9 percent. Rates for other states were 5.1 percent in New Hampshire, 4.4 percent in Vermont, 7.1 percent in Massachusetts, 9.0 percent in Rhode Island, and 7.6 percent in Connecticut.”
Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage said falling unemployment is the result of his administration’s business-friendly policies.
“We have been working hard for three years to improve the business climate in Maine so our companies can do what they do best: create jobs,” LePage said in a prepared statement. “We have reduced taxes, cut red tape, streamlined regulations and made fiscally responsible decisions to right-size government. All of these factors make Maine more competitive in attracting and retaining jobs.”
The governor also took aim, albeit indirectly, at his Democratic gubernatorial opponent, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud. Blasting a broken federal government in Washington, D.C., and the rolling disaster that is Obamacare, LePage said, “Career politicians don’t know how to create jobs.”
Maine’s jobless rate – a top indicator of economic health – will inevitably become a political tool in the 2014 gubernatorial race.
Michaud and unenrolled liberal Eliot Cutler have both tried to make the case that Maine’s economy is worse thanks to LePage. Falling unemployment rates could make that narrative difficult to sell to voters.
The unemployment rate decreased in every single county since last year at this time, with Sagadahoc and Washington Counties seeing the largest drop of 1.3 percent. Piscataquis and Lincoln Counties saw the smallest year-over-year decrease, with declines of just .2 percent.