AUGUSTA – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a large increase in unemployment numbers across the country, including the state of Maine.
According to a press release from the Maine Department of Labor, the April survey of employer payrolls shows reports of large decreases in staffing throughout the state with the unemployment rate being 10.6 percent.
It’s estimated that non-farm jobs decreased by 98,400 in April. This follows a reduction of 7,200 jobs in March. There were 531,700 non-farm jobs in April. This is the lowest there have been in a month since July 1994.
April had the highest unemployment rate on record.
The leisure and hospitality industry took the largest hit. as 42,600 people lost jobs in this area. This makes up 61 percent of jobs in that sector and 40 percent of all jobs lost across all sectors.
Surveys from households show the amount of employed Maine residents decreased by 77,300, and the number of unemployed went up by 48,700 from February to April.
Maine’s current method of estimating was adopted in 1976. The 10.6 percent unemployment rate for April and the 7.4 percent increase is the largest recorded for a one- or two-month time frame since Maine began using this methodology.
“As sharp as the increase in unemployment is, it does not fully reflect the magnitude of job loss that has occurred, either in Maine or the U.S,” the release said. “This is because to be counted as unemployed a person must have engaged in work search activities in the previous four weeks and have been available to work.”
Because of this, 26,000 fewer people were in the labor force than in February in Maine. If these people were counted, the unemployment rate would be higher in April.
The release said unemployment rates for the month were the highest ever recorded for all three metro areas, including Portland-South Portland 11.1 percent., Lewiston-Auburn at 10.7 percent and Bangor at 10.3 percent.
The April unemployment rate across the country is estimated to be 14.7 percent with an 11.2 percent increase throughout the last two months.
May is not counted in this data. Unemployment numbers for May will be released on June 19.