Augusta, Maine (Friday, July 22, 2016) The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) issued the following statement from Policy Analyst James Myall in response to state employment data for June 2016, released today by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). BLS reported mixed employment news for Maine. BLS estimated that the number of individuals employed in Maine increased by 3,400 individuals in the last month. At the same time, 1,500 Mainers joined the ranks of the unemployed. Maine was one of only six states where unemployment increased in a month of strong national job growth. As a result, the state’s official unemployment rate ticked up for the second consecutive month, to 3.7%.
“Today’s report marks another bumpy month for Mainers looking for work. Maine is still 5,000 jobs short of pre-recession levels. Fewer Mainers working means a smaller economy for the state, as well as continued economic hardship for many Maine families. An additional 3,300 Mainers were looking for work in June compared to May. This is a good sign as more Mainers are starting to return to the labor force even though it is contributing to a higher unemployment rate in the short-term. However, this number remains flat for the year to date and is still below pre-recession levels.
“Even as jobs have come back to the state, questions remain about the quality of those jobs. Wage levels in Maine have not kept pace with the rising cost of living over the past eight years, and average weekly earnings for Mainers today are lower, in real terms, than they were in 2007. When adjusted for inflation, the average Mainer earns the equivalent of $10 less a week in 2016 than before the recession, according to BLS data. This reflects the reality of tight household budgets and hard choices that many in our state still face.”