After a long decline in worker population, Maine’s labor force is growing again, according to new estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Maine’s civilian labor force added over 17,000 new workers, a 2.6 percent increase, between October 2015 and October 2016, according to the bureau’s October 2016 estimates of regional and state employment.

The recent growth in the state’s labor force offers Maine’s economy some relief after several years of shrinking labor pools. Maine’s labor force population peaked in the summer of 2013, and declined steadily for several years, stoking fears of a labor shortage.

In spite of the past year’s gains, Maine’s labor force remains smaller than it was three years ago: The bureau estimates that there were just over 693,000 workers and job-seekers in October 2016, compared to over 708,000 workers in the summer of 2013.

The past year’s increase in workers was matched by a slightly greater increase in jobs, meaning that the total number of unemployed people living in Maine, and the associated unemployment rate, decreased slightly over the same period.

Maine’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October 2016 was estimated to be 4 percent, significantly lower than the national unemployment rate, which was 4.9 percent.