Maine’s unemployment rate declined again in December, besting the jobless rate in November and the rate from December 2013.

According to a news release from Maine Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette, the preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in December was down slightly from 5.7 percent in November and down from 6.4 percent a year earlier. The number of unemployed declined 6,700 over the year to 38,400.

The employment-to-population ratio estimate of 60.8 percent remained above the U.S. average (59.2 percent) for the 87th consecutive month.

Nationally, the preliminary unemployment rate of 5.6 percent was down slightly from 5.8 percent in November and down from 6.7 percent one year ago.

The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for December of 609,200 is up 5,100 from one year ago. Private-sector jobs were up 5,300, primarily in the professional and business services, and education and health care sectors, according to the release. The estimate for government jobs was down 400 from one year ago.