MECEP Statement on Maine’s July 2016 Employment Data

“A correction of the artificially low unemployment rate”

Augusta, Maine (Friday, August 19, 2016) The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) issued the following statement from Policy Analyst James Myall in response to state employment data for July 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 4,000 over the last month. At the same time, 1,500 Mainers joined the ranks of the unemployed. Maine was one of only seven 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 third consecutive month, to 3.9%. 

“Today’s report marks another bumpy month for Mainers looking for work. The third consecutive monthly uptick in unemployment appears to signal an adjustment to the employment market; a correction of the artificially low unemployment rates earlier this year. As more Mainers are re-entering the workforce with hopes of finding a job, the unemployment rate is creeping back up. This will test the strength of Maine’s economy, determining whether there are enough good-paying jobs for these labor market entrants. The reality is that we still have yet to recover all the jobs lost since the recession began. 

“Beyond the headline unemployment rate, when we take into account discouraged workers, those who intermittently look for work, and those who are working part time but looking for full-time work, the unemployment rate is 9 percent. In addition, the jobs we’ve recovered tend to pay lower wages than the jobs lost during the recession which makes it even harder on workers to provide for their families.

“Too many Mainers are stuck in part-time or seasonal work or are unable to find work that enables them to make ends meet. Nearly 100,000 restaurant and hotel workers in Maine earn, on average, less than $400 a week. Even for year-round work, that’s below the poverty line for a family of three.  Maine needs an economy that works for everyone, paying a fair wage for all work, while supporting the creation of more middle-class jobs.”

July 2016 jobs report 8-19-2016