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Maine's unemployment rate holds steady at 4.9%

Virus Outbreak Unemployment Benefits
FILE – In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, shoppers pass by a former Clark’s shoe store that is now one of several vacant retail spaces among the outlet shops in Freeport, Maine. The Labor Department reported unemployment numbers Thursday, Sept. 3. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File) Robert F. Bukaty/AP

Maine’s unemployment rate holds steady at 4.9%

August 26, 06:00 PM August 26, 06:00 PM

Maine’s unemployment rate held steady in July after adding about 1,200 jobs, according to a new report.

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate last month remained largely unchanged from May’s 4.9% rate, the Maine Department of Labor said in a report.

The number of unemployed workers increased by 700 from June to July at 33,200, the state agency reported.

Meanwhile, there were 617,500 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in July, mostly in public education and professional and business services sectors, the agency said.

The number of payroll jobs in June was up by 40,800 from a year ago, according to the report. The largest gains were in the leisure and hospitality, retail trade, professional and business services, and manufacturing sectors, the agency said.

Another bright spot of the report was the state’s labor force participation rate, or the number of people 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and looking for work, which was up slightly at 60.4% in July. That’s the highest rate in the past 12 months, according to the agency.

The state’s unemployment rate in July was lower than from 5.3% one year ago, but it remained elevated from the 3.1% rate of February 2020, the report noted.

State labor officials noted that the ongoing impact of the pandemic has disrupted normal seasonal buildup and layoff patterns in some sectors of the economy.

“Job gains in the leisure and hospitality sector were larger than usual in June and somewhat less than usual in July, causing a decrease in jobs in the sector in July after seasonal adjustment,” the state agency said in the report.

Last week, the state reported a slight uptick in new claims for state and federal unemployment benefits, highlighting the volatility of the state’s pandemic-battered labor market.

There were 809 new claims for state unemployment benefits for the week that ended Aug. 14 – an increase of 40 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report. The state also reported 134 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a rise of 9 over the previous week, according to the report.

Meanwhile, 7,796 continuing claims – which lag behind a week – were filed in the week ending Aug. 7, declining by 136 over the previous week.

Maine has paid out more than $2.3 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits since March 2020, when the COVID-19 outbreak began.

The national unemployment rate decreased slightly to 5.4% in July, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Labor Department.

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