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Updated: March 11, 2024

Maine jobless rate holds steady at 3.4% in January

Sign outside Sea Bags store Photo / Renee Cordes Maine employers in hiring mode include Sea Bags, with this sign outside its flagship store on Commercial Street in Portland.

Maine's unemployment rate held steady at 3.4% in January, unchanged from December, according to preliminary data released Monday by the Maine Department of Labor.

Unemployment has been below 4% for 26 straight months, the second-longest such period, and below the U.S. average for 192 out of the last 194 months, the agency noted.

January's jobless rate was on par with the New England average, but below the 3.7% U.S. average for the month. While the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.9% in February, Maine will not release its February data until March 22.

Maine nonfarm wage and salary jobs rose to 655,400 in January, an increase of 1,300 over December's total and 8,300 above a year ago, as jobs reached a new high for the third straight months. Health care and social assistance jobs accounted for nearly two-thirds of the year-on-year increase.

Among the state's three metropolitan areas, unemployment was below the statewide average in Portland-South Portland, and close to the average in Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn.

Across the state, the unemployment rate ranged from a low of 2.7% in York County to a high of 6.4% in Washington County.

Hours and earnings

According to the Labor Department, the private sector work week averaged 32.8 hours and earnings averaged $31.88 per hour in January. Earnings were up 4.7% over a year ago, led by a 12% gain in construction pay.

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

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