Maine’s preliminary unemployment figures for March still reflect a pre-coronavirus economy humming along as normal, but the state Department of Labor said April figures will be very different.

The state’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate estimate of 3.2 percent for March was unchanged from February and little changed from 3.1 percent a year earlier. The number of unemployed job-seekers in Maine was roughly unchanged over the year at 22,200.

In March, Maine’s unemployment rate had been below 4 percent for 51 consecutive months, or four years and three months. Given the margins of error, the unemployment rate effectively had not changed in nearly three years.

But the labor department warned that April figures are shaping up to paint an entirely different picture. In the four week period beginning March 15 and ending April 11, 89,500 initial claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the department. That figure represents about 13 percent of the state’s total civilian labor force.

“We expect April workforce estimates, to be released May 22, will more fully reflect the employment situation that prevails today,” the department said Friday in a statement.

The U.S. preliminary unemployment rate of 4.4 percent for March was up from 3.5 percent for February and from 3.8 percent a year earlier.

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