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Slight Increase In Maine's Unemployment Rate Obscures A Positive Change

Maine's unemployment rate ticked up a notch last month, to 4.9%, but it was for a positive reason.

The state labor department says Maine actually produced 1,200 more jobs last month, but the number of people who set out looking for work was higher, so the jobless rate rose.

That labor force participation rate is now at 57.4%, a 16-month high. The state says schools are doing more hiring, narrowing the gap between private sector jobs and public sector jobs, a gap which had grown quite large late last year.

The state labor department says, despite last month's job gains, the state still has 22,500 fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic took hold here in March 2020.

Most of those missing jobs are in the leisure and hospitality sectors, along with schools, health care and social services.