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Unemployment Rates In Maine's Metro Areas Dipped In February

Unemployment rates declined in Maine's three federally recognized metropolitan areas in February.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that joblessness in Bangor fell to 5%, from 5.9% in January of this year. That was the biggest monthly decline in the rate of joblessness.

Close behind was Lewiston-Auburn, where the unemployment rate fell from 6% to 5.3%. Portland-South Portland had a similar decline, from 5.7% in January to 5% in February.

But in all three cities, the unemployment rate in Feb. 2021 was almost 2 percentage points higher than it was in Feb. 2020, the last month before the pandemic forced a major economic slowdown on Maine and the entire nation. In Portland-South Portland, the jobless rate in Feb. 2020 was just 2.7 percent, almost half what it was in February of this year.

State officials have also been pointing out some Mainers are still too discouraged to look for work, meaning they don't contribute to the unemployment statistics. That means unemployment rates in Maine probably understate the extend of joblessness in the state.