MECEP insight in advance of October jobs report

AUGUSTA, Maine — Ahead of the Department of Labor’s Friday release of the October “Employment Situation in Maine,” the Maine Center for Economic Policy is providing the following context:

  • Employment: The national jobs report for October showed strong gains following a stagnant report the previous month. Job growth for August and September was also revised upward. Industries that saw the biggest employment increases included food services, professional and business services, construction, and manufacturing.
  • Wages: Industries that are low paying and hard hit from the pandemic, such as hospitality and retail, have seen significant wage gains. Despite rising inflation, wage growth has far outpaced inflation for lower wage earners.Via the MECEP Blog: “many economists agree that rising prices are tied primarily to global supply problems and inflation will slow once these are resolved … Existing federal relief programs have protected Mainers from the worst of the price increases, and future legislation promises to expand economic capacity and remove the underlying causes of inflation.”
  • Child care: Nationally, there was little growth in child care employment in October, suggesting the lack of child care will continue to hold back employment, particularly for women.

While many other states saw COVID-19 transmission subside in October, cases in Maine have been consistently high since the end of the summer. This may foreshadow lower job gains than the national picture suggests.

“Vaccines for children and yesterday’s announcement from the Mills administration that all Maine adults are eligible for booster shots are potentially pivotal steps in controlling the spread of COVID-19 and getting workers back into the labor force,” said Arthur Phillips, policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy. “The best way to remove barriers to returning to work is to ensure workers are safe and protected so that they can provide for themselves and their families. The governor’s update and passage of the Build Back Better bill, with its investments in child care in particular, will help improve the jobs situation for Maine.”

See State of Working Maine 2021 for more insight into the impacts of COVID-19 on Maine workers and recommendations for policymakers.