AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s commissioner of labor, Jeanne Paquette, is leaving her position after nearly five years to take a job with the University of Southern Maine.

Gov. Paul LePage said Friday in a statement announcing Paquette’s departure that he’s proud of the work she did “to improve services for Maine workers and the businesses that employ them.”

Paquette, a former executive at Androscoggin Bank in Lewiston, guided her department through a period that was marked by decreases in Maine’s unemployment rate.

“We are truly sorry to see Jeanne go, but we wish her all the best in this exciting next chapter of her life,” the governor said in a prepared statement.

He said that under Paquette’s “strong leadership,” the labor department “has become more efficient and more responsive to the needs of both our employees and our employer.”

It has “stepped up its efforts to provide assistance and retraining when jobs are lost and to help Mainers prepare for and find good jobs,” LePage said.

Paquette served as the department’s deputy commissioner from July 2011 until moving up in September 2012.

Before taking the job with LePage’s administration, Paquette was well-versed in labor issues, having started the free Employment Times in 1999 after working as the bank’s vice president for human relations and as director of human resources for Creative Work Systems..

In 2009, Employment Times merged with the Sun Media Group, parent company of the Sun Journal.

She is also a past member of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Maine Jobs Council and several nonprofit boards.