AUGUSTA – Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage is touting the latest unemployment figures, which show Maine’s number of jobless at the lowest rate since November of 2008 – a 15 percent decrease since LePage took office.
“About 8,000 more people are working in the private sector now than when I took office,” said LePage. “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.”
The June unemployment rate of 6.8 percent is down from 7.3 percent in June of 2012.
“By reducing taxes, limiting the size of government and reforming our welfare system, we can continue to improve the business climate, help create more jobs and let Mainers keep more of their hard-earned money,” said LePage.
According to the Maine Department of Labor, June is the 69th consecutive month Maine had a higher share of employed population than the national average, at 60.9 percent compared to 58.6 percent. However, not all counties have seen equal shares of new employment.
While four counties showed no change over the past year in unemployment rates, twelves posted lower rates than June of 2012. Southern counties continue to outperform those in the north, with Cumberland and York counties posting, respectively, 5.6 percent and 5.9 percent unemployment rates. Some counties in rural Maine have higher-than-average unemployment: Aroostook (9.3), Franklin (9.4), Piscataquis (9.5), Somerset (9.2), and Washington (9.9).
The U.S. unemployment rate remain unchanged from May’s rate of 7.6 percent. The national rate is down from 8.2 percent one year ago.
Improving economic indicators may be welcome news for most Mainers, but independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler surely is not smiling. Cutler’s campaign has targeted LePage’s economic policies in its talking points and routinely uses Facebook posts to blame Maine’s limping economy on the governor.
Come 2014, Maine’s unemployment rate will be a critical indicator of LePage’s economic policies.