September 21, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Laura Hudson 207-621-5009
AUGUSTA -- Labor market conditions remained positive throughout most of the state in August.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Estimates
Household Survey Estimates - The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 3.2 percent for August was up slightly from 3.0 percent for July and down slightly from 3.4 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed declined 1,400 over the year to 22,400. Maine's unemployment rate has been below 4.0 percent for 33 consecutive months, the longest period on record.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 3.9 percent for August was unchanged from July and down from 4.4 percent one year ago.
The New England average for August was 3.6 percent, with New Hampshire 2.7 percent, Vermont 2.8 percent, Massachusetts 3.6 percent, Rhode Island 4.0 percent, and Connecticut 4.3 percent.
The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.8 percent remained above the 60.3 percent U.S. average.
Payroll Survey Estimates - The 628,300 preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for August was up 5,100 from one year ago. The private sector estimate was up 4,600 to 527,600, with gains primarily in the healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing sectors. Government jobs were up 500 to 100,700. Most of the gain was in federal government, partly at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 2.9 percent for August was little changed from 2.8 percent one year ago. Unemployment was lowest in Sagadahoc County (2.3 percent) and highest in Aroostook and Washington Counties (4.0 percent). For the month of August, unemployment rates were the lowest on record in Franklin and Piscataquis counties.
Among metro areas, unemployment rates were below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland area (2.4 percent) and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (3.0 percent) and Bangor (3.1 percent) areas.
September workforce estimates will be released Friday, October 19 (Data Release Schedule: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html ).
This release is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html .
Labor force and unemployment data is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .
Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Preliminary labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed) tend to move in a direction for several months and then reverse course. Those directional trends are largely driven by a smoothing procedure and may not indicate a change in underlying workforce conditions. Annual revisions (published in March each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of 2017 preliminary and revised unemployment rate estimates is available at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2017workforcedata_revisions.pdf.
The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2018 is 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate each month.
To assess employment growth, we recommend looking at nonfarm jobs from the payroll survey rather than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger, has smaller margins of error, and is subject to smaller revisions. More on the differences in accuracy of the two measures is at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf .
Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because there is variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness for the universe of all employers. Additionally, seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters and holidays, and other events do not always occur with the same timing, which can exacerbate monthly volatility. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Estimates for the period from October 2017 to September 2018 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2019. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.