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Archived: Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Improves, But Job Numbers Drop

Posted on September 15, 2011

The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in 30 months during August, but the good news was tempered by a reversal in the steady growth in jobs throughout the commonwealth.

Massachusetts UnemploymentState officials announced this morning that that the jobless rate declined from 7.6 percent to 7.4 percent during August, the lowest rate since February 2009. The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains well below the 9.1 percent mark for the nation as a whole.

At the same time, the total number of jobs in the Massachusetts economy dropped by 2,800 during August even after adjusting for the effects of 6,100 Verizon workers who were on strike at the time the numbers were compiled. The decline slows a recovery in which Massachusetts employers have added 48,000 jobs for a growth rate of 1.5 percent since August 2010.

Manufacturing, government and the financial sector led the August jobs decline. Transportation, warehousing and retail trade added jobs during the month.

The August job loss follows a revised 10,400 job gain in July, previously reported as a 12,700 job gain.

“The concentration of high-skill and knowledge companies in the Massachusetts economy continues to allow us to outperform the rest of the country. But the continued uncertainty surrounding debt problems both in Europe and the United States is beginning to weigh down growth here in the commonwealth,” said Andre Mayer, Senior Vice President of Research and Communication at AIM.

Announcement of the August employment report comes a week after the AIM Business Confidence Index fell into negative territory on its 100-point scale for the first time since September 2010.

The state job estimates for August show 3,212,100 Massachusetts residents were employed and 258,100 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,470,200. Over-the-month, 3,700 more residents were employed and 5,000 fewer residents were unemployed. Since October 2009, there are 43,700 more residents employed and 46,300 fewer residents unemployed as the labor force decreased by 2,600. Totals for August may not add exactly due to rounding.

The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households, while the job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics for August exhibit different trends.