Mass. unemployment rate jumps to 7.4 percent
The Massachusetts unemployment rate in January jumped above 7 percent for the first time in nearly 16 years as the state's employers slashed nearly 5,000 jobs, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.
The state's jobless rate hit 7.4 percent in January, up from a revised 6.4 percent in December. It's the highest rate since June 1993, when Massachusetts was recovering from the deep recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s. There are now more than 250,000 unemployed in Massachusetts, up by nearly 100,000, or about 60 percent, from a year ago.
The national unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in January. The US Labor Department reports February employment statistics tomorrow. Economists forecast that the national jobless rate rose to about 8 percent last month as employers cut hundreds of thousand more jobs.
In Massachusetts, employers cut jobs for the eighth consecutive month. The state has lost about 73,000 jobs over the past year, or about 2 percent of total employment.
Professional and business services, a key sector that include law, accounting, consulting, and technical firms, led job losses in January, shedding 3,600 jobs. Construction firms cut 2,200 jobs in January; manufacturers 1,800, and financial services, 1,200. State and local governments cut 1,000 jobs.
Education and health services, which includes hospitals and universities, helped stabilize the labor market. The sector added 1,600 jobs. In another bright spot, retailers ended four consecutive months of job losses, adding 3,300 jobs in January.
(By Robert Gavin, Globe staff)