First State unemployment drop in November may be misleading

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Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and any reading below 300,000 is low by historical standards.

Virginia's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate continues to be below the national rate, which was unchanged in November at 4.1 percent. Many employers say it is hard to find people to fill their open jobs, and so are holding tightly onto their existing staffs.

The Hoosier unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percent last month, down to 3.7 percent.

The number of jobs in the Lincoln area hit 194,143, up almost 2,000 over a year ago.

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That was the same as in October but down considerably from the 3.3 percent rate in November 2016. Local, state and federal government jobs also have dropped over the past year.

Job gains were reported in sectors that include educational and health services; leisure and hospitality; financial activities; professional and business services; and other services.

The unemployment rate was below the statewide average in the Portland-South Portland (2.4 percent) metro area and close to the average in the Lewiston-Auburn (2.7 percent) and Bangor (2.9 percent) metro areas. That figure has fallen about 5 percent in the past year.

Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.