Mass. jobless rate falls to five-year low
Massachusetts' unemployment rate declined nearly a full percentage point in March, to it lowest level in more than five years, as the number of unemployed residents plunged by nearly 32,000.
Although the 4.4 percent jobless rate indicates an improving economy, a state economist cautioned against taking a single month’s data as a sign of any long-term trend.
The decline, from 5.3 percent in February, is based on data adjusted to account for seasonal employment variations. But the findings could be revised once more complete numbers are available from wider sampling, said Elliott Winer, chief economist at the state Department of Workforce Development.
‘‘There’s a lot of sampling variability that goes into the estimate,’’ Winer said. ‘‘But the fact that we saw a nine-tenths of a point drop in one month clearly indicates things improved.’’
The last time the state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent or less was in October 2001, amid a recession that triggered a sharp rise in joblessness.
The March unemployment rate was the same as the nation’s.
A separate survey of employers found the state added 7,200 jobs in January, with the education and health services sectors posting the biggest gains.
The state’s March jobs total of nearly 3.23 million is up 37,100 from a year earlier, and up 94,200 since December 2003, when the state began regaining some of the jobs it lost in the preceding two years.