April 21, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 21, 2017
Contact: Glenn Mills 207-621-5192
Workforce conditions continued to improve in March. Preliminary estimates indicate there was a record number of nonfarm and private sector payroll jobs in Maine, which drove the unemployment rate to a new low.
Seasonally Adjusted Statewide Data
Household Survey Estimates – The preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.0 percent for March was the lowest on record since the current estimation methodology was implemented in 1976. It was down from 3.2 percent in February and 3.7 percent one year ago. The number of unemployed was down 4,500 over the year to 21,000. The unemployment rate was below 4 percent in 14 of the last 17 months, only the third such period in the last 41 years.
The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.5 percent was down from 4.7 percent in February and 5.0 percent one year ago. The New England unemployment rate averaged 3.8 percent in March.
March unemployment rate estimates for other states in the region were 2.8 percent in New Hampshire, 3.0 percent in Vermont, 3.6 percent in Massachusetts, 4.3 percent in Rhode Island, and 4.8 percent in Connecticut.
The employment to population ratio estimate of 61.9 percent remained above the U.S. average of 60.1 percent.
Payroll Survey Estimates – The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate of 623,000 for March was up 5,300 from one year ago, reaching a new all-time high. The private sector jobs estimate of 523,200 also was a new high. The largest job gains were in the construction; trade, transportation, and utilities; and education and healthcare sectors.
The 99,800 jobs in federal, state, and local governments was unchanged over the year. Government comprised 16.0 percent of nonfarm jobs, the lowest share on record.
Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Data
The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 3.6 percent for March was down from 4.5 percent one year ago. Rates declined over the year in all counties. The lowest rate was 2.5 percent in Cumberland County and the highest was 6.9 percent in Washington County.
Unemployment rates were lower than the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland (2.6 percent), Lewiston-Auburn (3.2 percent), and Bangor (3.4 percent).
April estimates will be released on Friday, May 19 (Data Release Schedule: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html ).
This release is available here: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html .
Labor force and unemployment data is available here: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html .
Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available here: http://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html .
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.
The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates in 2017 is 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 http://cwri.blogspot.com/2016/04/reports-that-maine-is-losing-jobs-are.html .
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 2016 to September 2017 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2018. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates.