Maine’s Department of Labor released preliminary data showing the unemployment rate in October 2019 at 2.8%, a slight decrease from the previous month.
This represents the 46th straight month of unemployment remaining below 4% in Maine. Twelve Maine counties have rates under 3%, including Sagadahoc County at 1.8%. Cumberland County at 2%, and Hancock, Lincoln, Knox and York Counties at 2.1%. The resulting workforce shortages are hampering not only growth, but also normal operations in many economic sectors in Maine, including hospitality, elder care, and agriculture.
Nationally, the unemployment rate in October 2019 was 3.6%, continuing a fifty-year low, with a million more job openings than there are job seekers.
Coinciding with the low unemployment rates and labor shortages are measures taken by the administration to cut legal immigration to the U.S., including slashing annual refugee admissions, and imposing new requirements currently enjoined by federal court orders, that could result in half as many immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents being able to immigrate. The administration’s new policies and procedures, if implemented, would result in hundreds of thousands fewer immigrants arriving in the U.S. annually, and at least 500 fewer in Maine.
Given our nation’s low birthrates and aging population, immigration is critical for the U.S. and Maine to continue to have vibrant communities and a strong economy. The administration’s actions impeding immigration ignore that reality.