Mass. unemployment falls to 8.9 percent
The Massachusetts unemployment rate fell last month for the first time in more than two years, plunging nearly a half-percentage point as employers trimmed payrolls by just 900 jobs, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.
The state jobless rate dropped to 8.9 percent in October from 9.3 percent in September, the first decline since June 2007. The surprising decrease bucked the national trend, which saw the US unemployment rate soar into the double digit for the first time since the early 1980s, hitting 10.2 percent.
In Massachusetts, manufacturing, retail, financial services, and other sectors continued to cut jobs, but most of those losses were offset by strong gains in two of the state's key employment sectors: professional and business services, and education and health services. The beleaguered construction industry even added 100 jobs, the first gain since February.
The modest job losses are a sharp reversal from September, when employers slashed 9,300 jobs, and the unemployment rate hit 9.3 percent, the highest level since 1976. The state has shed about 125,000 jobs, or just under 4 percent of employment, since the recession began in March 2008.