According to preliminary data released Tuesday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maine’s unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in December.

That figure is a new five-year low, down from a rate of 6.4 percent in November and 7.2 percent in December 2012. However, these numbers are preliminary, and the the federal agency reported that the over-the-month change from 6.4 percent to 6.2 percent is not “statistically significant,” though the year-over-year reduction of 1 percentage point is statistically significant.

An increasing employment-to-population ratio — the proportion of working-age people in the state’s overall population who are part of the workforce — has been the leading factor in Maine’s declining unemployment rates for the past three years, according to a news release issued Tuesday morning by Gov. Paul LePage’s office. Maine’s employment-to-population ratio was 61.2 percent in December.

“More Mainers are remaining in the labor force seeking work, and they are finding it,” LePage said in a statement. “We have been working hard for three years to improve the business climate in Maine so our companies can do what they do best: create jobs.”

There were 600,500 nonfarm jobs in Maine in December, an increase from 593,900 in December 2012, according to the preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The data also revealed there were 6,500 fewer unemployed people counted in Maine in December 2013 than during the same month the previous year.

The national unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in December, down from 7 percent in November and 7.9 percent in December 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month.

Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.