Maine’s unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in November, down slightly from 7.4 percent in October and little changed from 7.1 percent one year ago.

The rate has remained relatively flat since January, when the statewide unemployment rate stood at 7.0 percent, according the state Department of Labor.

“There’s really not been much change at all. We’re in the exact same position as the nation as a whole,” said Glenn Mills, director of economic research for the Maine Department of Labor’s Center for Workforce Research & Information.

The U.S. unemployment rate was estimated at 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in October and down from 8.7 percent one year ago.

For New England, the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent, ranging from 5.2 percent in Vermont to 10.4 percent in Rhode Island.

In Maine, sectors such as health care, education, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality gained jobs. State and local government jobs dropped and manufacturing stabilized, Mills said.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 51,300 Mainers were unemployed in November.

“As has been the case for some time now, we don’t have a lot to be excited about in this unemployment report,” said Joel Johnson, a policy analyst for the Maine Center for Economic Policy.

In addition to the 51,300 Mainers who were unemployed in November, Johnson said at least another 60,000 have part-time jobs and want more work, or have stopped looking.

Still, the state continued to have a higher rate of labor force participation than the nation, Mills said. The rate in Maine was 60.5 percent, compared with 58.7 percent for the U.S.

Labor force participation is the share of the population working or actively seeking a job. Jobless people who aren’t looking for work are considered part of the labor force.

The preliminary unemployment rate for November was seasonally adjusted. The non-adjusted statewide rate was 7.0 percent, up from 6.8 percent one year ago.

The rates ranged from 5.5 percent in Cumberland County to 9.6 percent in Piscataquis County.

Rates tended to be lower than the statewide average in southern and central counties and higher than average in northern and rim counties.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metro areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford (5.7 percent), Bangor (6.6 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (6.7 percent).

Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:

jhall@pressherald.com