Maine’s unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent in June, the lowest it has been since August 2008, according to preliminary estimates from the state Department of Labor.

The rate was down from 5.7 percent in May and 6.7 percent in June 2013, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Maine’s preliminary nonfarm payroll jobs estimate for June is 611,400, up 8,000 from a year earlier, it said. Private-sector jobs were up 8,800, primarily in the leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade and education and health-care sectors. Those gains were partially offset by a decline of 800 jobs in government.

The number of jobless Mainers has declined by 8,200 over the past year to 39,300, the department said, adding that the share of Maine’s population employed in June was 61.6 percent, well above the national average of 59 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate estimate declined to 6.1 percent in June from 6.3 percent in May and 7.5 percent in June 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The New England unemployment rate averaged 5.7 percent. Rates for other states were 4.4 percent in New Hampshire, 3.5 percent in Vermont, 5.5 percent in Massachusetts, 7.9 percent in Rhode Island, and 6.7 percent in Connecticut, the department said.

Cumberland County had the lowest jobless rate in the state in June, at 4.1 percent, the department said, while Aroostook and Washington counties tied for the highest rate, 7.7 percent.

The jobless rate in Maine has been on the decline since reaching its most recent peak of 8.4 percent in December 2009, according to Labor Department statistics. That decline has accelerated since July 2013, when the state’s jobless rate was 6.7 percent.

The national unemployment rate has followed the same trend, declining from 9.9 percent in December 2009 to 6.1 percent in June.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 207-791-6390 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: jcraiganderson

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