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Boston Fed President Agrees: Many Mainers Still Struggling in Weak Labor Market

April 16, 2014 by

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Like MECEP, the Boston Federal Reserve Bank is looking deeper into Maine’s labor market statistics finding that employment prospects for Mainers are still nowhere near as good as they were before the recession.

Thanks to reporting from the Bangor Daily News’s Darren Fishell, we know that Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren is concerned about Maine’s large number of part-time workers who want more work but can’t find it and the lack of significant economic recovery outside of Greater Portland.

Rosengren pointed to a startlingly high number of Mainers working part-time who want more work but can’t find it. As covered in our recent analysis of Maine’s labor market recovery, of the 659,400 Mainers who had jobs in 2013, approximately 42,600 were part-timers unable to find full-time work. That’s the sixth highest rate of “involuntary part-time” employment in the nation. He also expressed concern that the number of these involuntary part-time workers hasn’t improved at all since the bottom of the recession. This confirms our analysis, which shows that Maine experienced the third-largest increase in involuntary part-time employment nationally from 2009 to 2013.

Rosengren also flagged Maine’s slow recovery in the most broadly-defined measure of unemployment: the “U6” unemployment rate, which accounts for involuntary part-time workers and unemployed workers who have recently given up their job search for any number of reasons. Maine’s U6 has improved little since the end of the recession, falling from 15% in 2009 to 14.1% in 2013.

Finally, he echoed MECEP’s analysis by noting that Maine’s economic recovery has been uneven across geography: the vast majority of job creation since the end of the recession has been located in the Greater Portland area.

President Rosengren’s remarks follow on the heels of Fed Chairman Janet Yellen, who recently raised similar concerns for the nation as a whole.

Data Note: Statistics on broadly-measured unemployment and involuntary part-time workers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ “alternative measures of labor underutilization in the states”. They are released quarterly and present rolling four-quarter average. New data, presenting averages over the period from April 2013 through March 2014 (Q2 2013 through Q1 2014), are tentatively scheduled for release on Friday, April 25th.

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