Maine’s unemployment rate is ticking back up after a summer low and amid economic unease. 

The statewide unemployment rate was 3.3% in September, up slightly from 3.1% in August.

Last month was the second that the figure has been back above 3% after dipping to a low of 2.8% in July. That was the first month since February 2020 that the rate was below 3%.

July’s rate was just above the record-low joblessness rate set three years ago. From April to June 2019, Maine recorded an unemployment rate of 2.6%. In May 2020, three months into the pandemic, unemployment jumped to a high of 9.2%. Nationally, unemployment peaked at 14.2% in April 2020. 

This year’s most recent three-month average unemployment rate – a better indicator of workforce conditions – was 3.1% between July and September, about 0.2% higher than the previous three months, the department said.

Maine employers added 1,600 jobs in September. Industries with the largest job gains were information, financial activities, and leisure and hospitality. State government, and professional and business services saw the largest job losses.


Maine’s labor force participation rate in September was 58.6%, roughly the same as it has been since it fell more than 3% in March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic’s economic impact. The U.S. labor force participation rate is usually around 62%.

As of September, the state’s labor force numbered 639,000 workers, about 41,000 fewer than before the pandemic. The loss of that many workers is partly to blame for the hypercompetitive labor market in the state. Maine economists suspect many of the workers who have left the labor pool since 2020 are older and retired earlier than expected.

Some counties and metro areas in Maine had even lower unemployment rates last month than the state as a whole. Sagadahoc County had a 2.7% unemployment rate, while York and Cumberland tied with a 2.8% rate, the same level as in the Portland-South Portland metro area.

Somerset County had the highest jobless rate of Maine counties, at 4.6%, followed by Washington County, at 4.4%, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

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