In 2014 job growth, Maine’s ranked somewhere in the middle of the pack

Maine’s job growth in 2014 was in the middle of the pack nationally, up about 1 percent from December 2013 to November 2014, according to an analysis by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

But there is a little wiggle room in the numbers Pew laid out of job change estimates in a blog post Tuesday.

As the post points out, there are about 14 states where job totals rose by more than 2 percent. A total 35 states had statistically significant changes in jobs over the year, according to the latest release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But Maine, with an estimated job change of less than 7,000 for that period, was not among them.

The BLS estimates used in the Pew analysis are based on monthly surveys, which have a certain margin of error. They’re adjusted later using other data sources — like data from the federal unemployment insurance system — that give a more accurate picture of jobs in each state and region.

For the most recent months, job figures can fluctuate quite a bit from month-to-month, which poses one challenge for a year-over-year comparison, particularly that compares December to November.

In Maine’s case, the estimate of jobs in November 2013 was about 1,400 lower than one month later. That’s not because Maine’s economy added that many jobs in one month, but because that’s the product of estimating from surveys.

That has an impact when ranking or comparing job growth in each state, as November to November would produce a larger estimate of jobs gained over the period. As the BLS noted in the latest release, even that higher job change estimate for Maine isn’t statistically significant for the year.

But accepting the the available data, as we must, Maine’s squarely ranked 35th for job growth for the period Pew reviewed.

That’s just ahead of Iowa and behind Louisiana. North Dakota, Texas and Utah made the top of the list, which had Alaska and Mississippi ranked last.

As for more finely tuned data on 2014, we’ll just have to wait.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.