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Jobs Data Paints Murky Picture of Economy

Posted on November 22, 2013

Job growthNew figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Massachusetts continues to show solid, unspectacular job growth.

The commonwealth added 9,100 jobs in October, 9,400 in September, and 6,000 in August. The September number is a preliminary estimate, while earlier months are revised. Release of the data was delayed by the federal government shutdown.

Since last October the Bay State has added 52,100 jobs, all in the private sector.

Among the industry sectors sharing in this growth are Education and Health Services (+17,300 on the year); Trade, Transportation, and Utilities (+11,400); Professional, Scientific and Business Services (+8,900); Information (+ 6,700, a 7.7 percent gain); and   Construction (+6,300). The manufacturing sector shed 4,300 jobs.

The household survey, by contrast, finds 5,200 fewer Massachusetts residents employed and 15,600 more unemployed, which is why the unemployment rate is at 7.2 percent, up half a point from last October. I have not seen a plausible explanation of this persistent divergence, which makes the state of our economy hard to track.