Unemployment in Maine continues its record low streak in December. In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, a sign advertises job opportunities at Harry’s Pizzeria in the Coconut Grove neighborhood in Miami. Credit: Lynne Sladky | AP

The unemployment rate in Maine continues its record pace of being below 4 percent for 48 consecutive months.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted rate in December 2019 was 2.9 percent, little changed from the 2.8 percent in November and lower than the 3.5 percent in December 2018, according to the Maine Department of Labor, which released the data on Friday.

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The number of people unemployed is down 4,700 over the year to 19,700.

That is making it even more difficult for businesses to find and keep employees, despite an increase in the minimum wage from $11 to $12 for most workers in Maine in January.

Nationally, the preliminary unemployment rate was 3.5 percent for December, unchanged from November and down from 3.9 percent one year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The December estimate for New England is little changed at 3 percent. Rates for other states in the region are 2.6 percent in New Hampshire, 2.3 percent in Vermont, 2.8 percent in Massachusetts, 3.5 percent in Rhode Island, and 3.7 percent in Connecticut.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...