analysis by Gina Hamilton
Coastal Journal staff
AUGUSTA -- Employers nationally added 162,000 jobs in March, after a disappointing job loss of 14,000 jobs the previous month. March is only the third month of gains since the recession began in 2007.
Still, the unemployment rate nationally remained at 9.7% for new claims. The seasonally-adjusted Maine unemployment rate for February, the latest month for which figures are available, is 8.3%.
Although the news was positive, there were a number of short-term factors that increased the numbers, including an addition of 48,000 jobs by the Census Bureau as it readied for the count of the U.S. population. Some economists had feared that even more of March's gain would be due solely to Census hiring, so the modest non-governmental gain was viewed favorably.
February's job numbers may also have been artificially depressed by the unusually harsh winter weather along much of the Eastern Seaboard.
A check of local hiring through various media suggests that more non-seasonal, as well as seasonal, jobs are currently on offer.
Even so, Adam Fisher, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Labor, counsels taking a longer term view of the employment situation.
"We are definitely seeing the rate of job losses decline, compared to what we were seeing six months to a year ago," he said. "However, it may be a while before here in Maine, and nationally, we begin to see rapid growth in broad-based hiring across all sectors. Throughout the recession, certain sectors, such as health care, remained relatively stable, while other sectors, such as construction and manufacturing, were harder hit."