The current strength of Maine’s economy is taking a few casualties within the agency that helps unemployed residents find jobs.

Unemployment is so low in Maine that the state Department of Labor is laying off up to 10 CareerCenter counselors whose salaries are grant-funded based on the number of job seekers they assist.

Demand for job-placement services in Maine has plummeted, the department said. With Maine’s unemployment rate at 3.2 percent as of May, unemployment claims are at a 32-year low and participation in the federally funded Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment program is down significantly, it said.

“The state is reimbursed for the number of people who participate in the program,” said Labor Department spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz. The state projects that the current amount of funding would not support the counselors’ salaries for the upcoming fiscal year, she said.

As a result, the program is being suspended and the counselors whose salaries it funds will be let go or reassigned to other government positions in July, Rabinowitz said. She said the state reserves the right to reactivate the program if and when Maine’s unemployment rate increases in the future.

“We are countercyclical – when the economy is really good, we shrink our workforce,” Rabinowitz said.


The department has about 140 employees in its Bureau of Employment Services, she said, most of whom work in the agency’s CareerCenters, which help unemployed residents find new jobs. Rabinowitz said all of Maine’s CareerCenters will continue to serve those in need of employment.

But in the current job market, a specific category of people usually prone to long-term unemployment has all but disappeared, she said. That was the group participating in the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment program.

“The pool of people who are eligible has shrunk greatly,” Rabinowitz said. “People are getting jobs before they even show up at the workshop.”

Rabinowitz said the department will try to place the counselors in other government jobs or help them find work in the private sector. She noted that the counselors are all experts in the field of job placement, which should give them a head start.

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