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Updated: March 13, 2023

Hospitality hiring pushes Maine unemployment rate below 3% in January

We are hiring sign on a door. Photo / Renee Cordes Most of January's job increases were in the leisure and hospitality sector.

Maine's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 2.9% in January from 3.1% in December, according to the latest monthly barometer released by the Maine Department of Labor on Monday. 

Total non-farm wage and salary jobs increased by 1,100 to an all-time high of 648,000. Most of the January increase was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which recorded the most jobs since the onset of the pandemic early in 2020.

Between November and the end of January, the number of jobs increased by an average of 1,900 per month over the previous three months through October. Private-sector jobs were 1.9% higher while government jobs were 0.7% lower, mostly in public higher education.

Among Maine's three metropolitan areas, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-South Portland at 2.2% while unemployment rates were close to the statewide average in both Bangor (2.5%) and Lewiston-Auburn (2.8%). 

Across the state's 16 counties, unemployment rates were lowest in Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties and highest in Washington County.

Work week and earnings data 

The latest Maine Department of Labor report also showed that the work week wage averaged $29.82 per hour in January, while hourly earnings increased 3.5% from a year earlier, led by a 10.2% jump in the leisure and hospitality sector.

The work week was longest in manufacturing and shortest in leisure and hospitality, while earnings were highest in professional and business services and lowest in leisure and hospitality.

The Maine Department of Labor is scheduled to release February data on Friday, March 24.

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