Maine unemployment ticked upward in August


Maine’s unemployment rate increased in August, rising to 3.1 percent from July’s rate of 2.8 percent. The labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio both decreased between August and July.

August’s labor force participation rate was 58.6 percent, down from 58.8 percent the previous month. The employment-to-population ratio also decreased, from 57.2 percent in July to 56.8 percent in August.

According to the Maine Department of Labor (DOL), “unemployment was modestly higher and labor force participation and employment rates remained below those that prevailed shortly before the pandemic.”

DOL’s August jobs report also included three-month averages for the period between June and August. Unemployment averaged 3 percent in June through August, a rate 0.4 percent lower than the previous three months. DOL also reported that the average labor force participation and employment rates decreased between June through August and the previous three months.

The total number of nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 100 between July and August, rising from 636,100 to 636,200. 

“The largest increases in the month were in the retail trade and the leisure and hospitality sectors; the largest decrease was in local government, primarily in education,” the DOL reported.

The DOL further states that the number of jobs available has been “relatively unchanged” since May.

In the three month period between July and August, the number of available jobs averaged 900 fewer jobs per month than in the previous three month period. The July through August average was 0.4 percent lower than the 2019 average. Private sector jobs were 0.2 percent lower during that three month period than in 2019. Government jobs were 1.4 percent lower in the three months between July and August than in 2019, with most of the losses in public higher education.

In August, six of Maine’s counties had a not seasonally-adjusted employment rate that was at least 0.3 percent higher than the state’s 2.9 percent average unemployment rate. Three counties had an unemployment rate that was at least 0.3 percent lower than the state average. Another in seven of Maine’s counties were close to the state average.

Cumberland, Sagadahoc, and York Counties had the lowest unemployment rates of 2.5 percent. Somerset County’s rate of 4.1 percent and Washington County’s rate of 4.3 percent were the highest in the state.

The Portland-South Portland metro area had an unemployment rate below the statewide average, at 2.5 percent. At 2.9 percent, Bangor’s unemployment rate was equal to the statewide average. Lewiston-Auburn’s 3.1 percent unemployment rate was above the statewide average.


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