The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the latest unemployment figures for the Portland area. These are the final numbers for March and the preliminary numbers for April. Maine is slowly but surely seeing improvement!

Highlights for March:

  • The unemployment rate fell to 4.8%. 1,600 positions were added, and no individual type of business sector saw any significant changes.

Highlights for April (preliminary)

The unemployment rate fell to 4.6%. Professional and Business Services added 1,100 positions, and Leisure and Hospitality added 1,300 positions as bars and restaurants started opening back up and the tourist season got started.  That 4.6% is better than the national average of 6.1%.

To give you an idea of how far we've come in a year, the April 2020 unemployment rate, which was the worst month for people out of work during the pandemic, peaked at 9.1%. Wow.

We're certain you've seen all the Help Wanted and Now Hiring Signs all around Maine. It seems everyone is hiring! So what's the deal with a lower unemployment rate and the challenge to fill all these jobs?  Some think it's the federal and state unemployment payouts that total over $750 a week that keep people at home. That, plus the three rounds of stimulus relief from Congress. Some disagree and think that people are waiting to get their old (pre-pandemic) jobs back, and others are concerned for their health working with the public. But even as most of us get vaccinated and people return to their jobs, it's notable that there was a labor shortage in Maine even BEFORE the pandemic. One reason for that? Maine's aging population. We have more leaving the workforce than are coming into it.



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