AUGUSTA — A lower unemployment rate and improving income picture are suggesting that the Maine economy is slowly on the mend.

The state Labor Department reported today that Maine’s preliminary unemployment rate was 7.4 percent in October, down from 7.7 percent in September and from 8.1 percent a year earlier. Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says the number of unemployed in Maine is down 6,000 from a year ago.

Fortman says declines in the unemployment rate over the last three months are due to factors including modest job growth and people leaving the labor force.

The new figures come out as state revenue forecasters meeting in Augusta hear upbeat reports. Economist Amanda Rector Maine employment should reach pre-recession levels by the end of 2013.