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September 20, 2019

Maine's unemployment rate sinks to new low of 2.9%

Maine's unemployment rate sunk to 2.9% in August, the first time it's been under 3% since at least January 2016.

August was also the 44th consecutive month in which the preliminary, seasonally adjusted rate has stayed below 4%, according to data released Friday by the Maine Department of Labor.

The August rate is down from 3.5% one year ago, and slightly less than the rate of 3% Maine recorded in July.

The 44-month streak is double the previous record of sub-4% unemployment, which ran from September 1999 to July 2001, state economist Glenn Mills said in a news release.

The estimated number of nonfarming payroll jobs in August was 634,500, up 6,800 from one year ago. The private sector accounted for 534,500 jobs, which was 6,800 more than August 2018. The largest job gains were in the leisure and hospitality sector, according to Mills.

Unemployment rates were the lowest on record for August in all 16 Maine counties, with Sagadahoc experiencing the lowest among them — a rate of 1.5%. Aroostook, Franklin, Somerset and Washington counties tied for the highest unemployment rates in the state, at 3%.

Unemployment was also at record lows in each of the state's metropolitan areas: 1.7% in Portland-South Portland, 2.1% in Bangor, and 2.3% in Lewiston-Auburn.

The nationwide unemployment rate for August was 3.7%, unchanged from both July and June and down slightly from 3.8% in August 2018.

Rates for other New England states were: 3.6% in Connecticut, 2.9% in Massachusetts, 2.5% in New Hampshire, 3.6% in Rhode Island and 2.1% in Vermont. All of those rates were identical to the states' July figures, except in Rhode Island, where unemployment edged up from 3.5%.

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