Last month the state and federal government both released unemployment figures showing a drop in the number of people out of work.
The jobless rate is the lowest its been in five years.
While the statistics say the numbers are down, the stories out of many Maine cities and towns paint a different picture for those in the work force.
“I wouldn’t say it’s normal,” said Ed Upham the Manager of the Bangor Career Center. “We always deal with some smaller layoffs throughout the year but we haven’t seen anything of this volume for a while”
In January Maine Congressman Mike Michaud said the jobless numbers, 6-point-5 percent nationally, 6-point-2 percent in Maine, tell only part of the story. “There are over three thousand three hundred Mainers who are no longer eligible for unemployment, that doesn’t mean that those 3,300 people found a job, it means they no longer collect unemployment so they’re no longer counted as being unemployed which they are. So I think we got to do a better job in actually being able to get an accurate count in how we calculate the unemployment, not only here in Maine but nationally”
According to Upham at the Career Center in Bangor, their numbers show less job seekers are walking through the door to get help. “The number of people who have been visiting the career center in the last three months, I looked back to November, December, and January and each month it has gone down the daily average but I don’t know what that means, maybe people are getting jobs, maybe people are not looking for jobs and just dropping out, maybe people are doing something else, but the people visiting the career center, the numbers have gone down”
Based on the latest numbers more than 43,500 Mainers were listed as unemployed in the month of December, that is about 23,000 less than February 2010 which was the highest unemployment rate listed on the www.maine.gov website statistics.
“We do have people that come in and say ‘I just got laid off, now what do I need to do?’ Now those are usually the first thing they want to do is to file for unemployment and then to find out what resources may be available, some people have gone through this before, unfortunately, they might already know how to file for unemployment and think they can take it on their own and some of them can, but they may find that after a period of weeks or months it hasn’t been successful and then they come in so it’s the whole gambit,” said Upham.
While the recent trend is less people coming in to the career center, those making their way in to use the computers, or get tips on how to write a resume, or cover letter, or to be prepped on what to expect in an interview are typically those who’ve been job searching for a long time.
“A lot of the traffic we’re seeing right now,” said Upham. “Are the people who have been looking for a while and when I say a while I mean a matter of months and still haven’t found employment and I am very happy that they are coming into the career center to get help because they need to do that, but we’re seeing the long term unemployed come in right now.”
Upham knows when people walk through the doors for the first time they are coming in looking for assistance. “The career center is an emergency room for your career and it’s just like when you walk into an emergency room there is something bad that happened and you need help and you don’t know what that help is and where to get it.”
To find out more about the most recent unemployment statistics in Maine, and some monthly and yearly numbers from the past visit https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus.html