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Business and Economy

Maine unemployment dips to 4.7%, the lowest rate since March 2020

Maine's labor market broke out of a rut in December. The state reports the unemployment rate dipped to 4.7% after alternating between 4.8% and 4.9% for nearly all of last year.

The state gained 1,800 jobs with increases in both the private and public sectors. The percentage of Mainers in the labor force declined and remains below pre-pandemic levels.

Among the reasons for that, says state labor official Glenn Mills, "are a lot of people who have retired." Mills says the rise in stock prices and home values over the last couple of years provided financial support to those people who wanted to retire.

Mills says other factors contributing to the decline in labor force participation were people who stayed out of the labor market either to be a caregiver to a child or an elderly relative.

Among Maine's 16 counties, the lowest unemployment rate, 3.2%, was in Sagadahoc County; the highest, 6.9%, was in Somerset County.

Looking ahead, Mills says he expects to see "gradual improvement" in the state's economy and job market, though any future surges in coronavirus may cause a temporary setback.