No improvement to unemployment, labor force participation in November

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For the month of November, Maine’s unemployment rate remained at 4.8%, a number that has largely been unchanged since February. The labor force participation rate was 60.3%, also little changed over the past eight months.

The number of nonfarm payroll jobs in the state decreased by 1,100. In total, 613,100 nonfarm payroll jobs existed in November. The number of nonfarm payroll jobs for October was revised upwards by 700.

According to the Maine Department of Labor (DOL), the number of nonfarm payroll jobs available in Maine has been mostly unchanged since summer and levels are similar to last spring.

“The recent flatness is similar to what occurred during previous surges in coronavirus case counts last fall and this spring,” the DOL said in a press release dated December 17.

Healthcare and social assistance lost 1,300 jobs in November, mostly in hospitals and practitioner offices. Construction added 400 jobs. In other sectors, the number of jobs available was little changed from October, or up slightly. 

In November, 102,000 people were employed in health care and social assistance. A year prior, 103,800 people were employed in the sector. For 2021 so far, employment in healthcare and social assistance peaked at 104,500 jobs in August. Since then, 2,500 fewer people are employed in the sector.

DOL also reports there were 4.2%, or 26,900, fewer jobs in November than in February 2020. Half of the net decrease was in the leisure and hospitality sector, mostly in restaurants and bars. One-quarter of the loss was in state and local government, mostly in K-12 and higher education. 

A further 20% of the loss was in healthcare and social assistance. According to the DOL, most of the net decrease occurred in the summer in social assistance and nursing and residential care facilities. Since the summer, hospitals have accounted for most of the job losses. 

November’s unemployment rate was 1.7% higher than in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic affected the economy. The labor force participation rate in November was also 2.3% lower than in February 2020.

“The decrease in unemployment since then is partially reflected in the 11,300 increase in the number of the unemployed. The remainder of the decrease in employment is reflected in lower labor force participation,” the DOL said in its release. 

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