Maine’s unemployment rate dipped to 2.9% in January, well below the national average of 3.4%.

At the same time, the number of nonfarm wage and salary jobs increased by 1,100 in January to an all-time high of 648,000.

That increase was driven primarily by the leisure and hospitality sector, which added the most jobs since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Those industries also reported a 10.2% increase in hourly earnings from the year before and drove a statewide increase of 3.5%.


The Maine Department of Labor released figures Monday that showed the January jobless rate had decreased from 3.1% in December.

The lowest unemployment rates for January were in Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties, both at 2.1%. The highest was in Washington County at 4.6%.

The state’s three metro areas all reported jobless rates below the state average. The Portland-South Portland area’s rate at 2.2%. Bangor had a rate of 2.5%. In Lewiston-Auburn, it was 2.8%.

The state previously reported higher rates in the second half of 2022 but has adjusted the data to find that unemployment was significantly lower in every month of 2022 than previously reported. These annual revisions to preliminary estimates are typical.

“Variability in preliminary estimates is expected to continue in 2023 and beyond,” the Center for Workforce Research and Information wrote in a news release explaining those changes. “This is due to changes in both the sample of survey respondents and the statistical methods used, as well as to gaps in the representativeness of survey respondents to the broader workforce. It is better to look at trends over many months than a single month or the change from one month to another to draw conclusions about the condition and direction of the labor market.”

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