Maine’s unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent in March, down from 6.1 percent in February, remaining below the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.

The state’s number of unemployed people declined 6,700 over the year to 41,800, the state Department of Labor said in a statement. The data does not include people who have stopped looking for a job and left the workforce.

The share of the population that was employed reached 61.8 percent, above the U.S. average of 58.9 percent. March was the 78th consecutive month the employment to population ratio was above the national average.

The U.S. unemployment rate estimate was 6.7 percent, unchanged from February and down from 7.6 percent one year ago. The New England estimate was 6.3 percent. Rates for other New England states ranged from 3.4 percent in Vermont to 8.7 percent in Rhode Island.

The not-seasonally-adjusted statewide unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in March, down from 7.5 percent one year ago. Not-seasonally-adjusted rates ranged from 5.0 percent in Cumberland County to 11.1 percent in Washington County.

The March unemployment rate was below the statewide average in all three metropolitan areas: Portland-South Portland-Biddeford was 5.2 percent; Bangor, 6.1 percent; and Lewiston-Auburn, 6.0 percent.

The preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for March totaled 607,100, up 8,000 from one year ago. The 9,100 private-sector job gains were seen in the professional and business services, retail, leisure and hospitality, education and healthcare, and financial services. Those gains were partially offset by a decline of 1,100 jobs in government.

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