Unemployment Numbers Expected to Remain Grim

AUGUSTA — Despite a dip in the unemployment rate in July, the Department of Labor expects the number of people seeking work to continue its gradual increase until well after the current recession ends.

Seasonally adjusted numbers released Friday showed that the state’s unemployment rate is approximately 8.4 percent, down from 8.6 percent in June. That decrease followed the national percentage, which went from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent.


“As with the nation, conditions have been volatile from month to month,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman in a press release.

Job losses were recorded in a variety of areas including natural resources and mining, construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation, utilities, information, financial services, professional and business services, hospitality and government. The only areas that showed job growth were education and health care.

Adam Fisher, a spokesman for the Department of Labor, said that as summer gives way to fall, the number of people without work in Maine is expected to increase as it does every year. That will make Maine’s actual unemployment rate higher because the formula for computing seasonally adjusted numbers accounts for normal changes in job availability.

The non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July was 8 percent, which was up from 5.1 percent a year ago. Piscatiquis County suffered the worse non-seasonally adjusted rate in Maine at 12 percent; Lincoln County was the best at 6.3 percent.

The numbers reported by the Department of Labor are more precise than figures released in early August, said Fisher, because other factors such as unemployment claims are taken into account.

“We use all the data we can in trying to understand what’s happening,” he said, adding that the department is watching the numbers in relation to the federal stimulus act to see how it will affect long-term trends.

“We’re not very good at looking into the crystal ball,” he said. “There are fewer people unemployed because of the (stimulus act) … How that will affect ongoing trends, we just don’t know.”

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