Friday, June 20, 2008

Unemployment Up

"The Maine Labor Department says the state's unemployment rate rose by seventh-tenths of a percentage point in May to 5.4 percent, Maine's highest rate in more than a decade.

Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says last month's monthly increase was unusually large. The comparable seasonally adjusted national jobless rate for May was one-tenth of a percentage point higher, 5.5 percent.

Labor officials say the increase is due in part to the sagging national economy. But part of the rise is due to a statistical fluke, because jobless rates were measured a week after many college students finished their work study for the year but had not yet gotten summer jobs."

Slight Income Growth

"Mainers' personal incomes grew 0.8 percent, slightly below the national average, during the first three months of the year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday.

The first-quarter growth rate in Maine matched the rate of growth in the last three months of 2007. It was also slightly below the national increase in personal incomes of 1.1 percent.

'It's entirely consistent with the economic pattern that we've seen,' said Charles Colgan, an economist and professor at the University of Southern Maine.

Colgan said that, in general, personal incomes follow the economy, unless there's something unusual about the labor market. Maine's unemployment rate has risen in recent months, so there's no upward pressure on wages, he said.

Colgan is expecting very modest growth in the economy in the second half of the year.

Health care and social assistance continued to be the industry sector contributing the most to personal income growth, accounting for 0.16 percentage points of the 0.8 percent increase.

The biggest drag was from the construction industry, where personal income declines took 0.07 percentage points off the total growth."
- Portland Press Herald

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eliot passes solar and wind ordinances

Voters in Eliot approved two new ordinances permitting wind and solar energy systems in town.

The solar ordinance passed 852 to 158 and the wind ordinance passed 831 to 183.

The two ordinances will permit small wind and solar energy systems, and will allow the town to regulate them to make sure they’re installed and operated safely. The town’s energy commission, which put forth the ordinances, believes they will send a statement that alternative power systems are welcome in town.

The ordinances spell out regulations such as setbacks and height limitations.

Eliot is now among the first communities in the state to pass an ordinance that specifically addresses these kinds of systems, according to Michael Starn, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association.

- mainetoday

Passamaquoddy gets more money for tidal power effort

The Passamaquoddy Tribe of Pleasant Point has received a $120,000 grant by the Department of the Interior's Division of Energy and Mineral Development to continue pursuing tidal power in the region.

Two years ago, the tribe received a $55,000 federal grant to study the feasibility of harnessing tidal currents for energy. Stephen Crawford, the tribe's environmental director, told the Bangor Daily News the grant will fund the testing of an underwater turbine in several locations to work toward developing a tidal-power site in the waters off the reservation.

According to Crawford, if all goes well the tidal turbines could supply power to every Washington County town in a little over a decade.

- Mainebiz