The state unemployment rate fell in March for the first time in nearly three years as Massachusetts employers added thousands of jobs for the second consecutive month, the state Executive Office of Workforce Development reported today.
The state gained 7,600 jobs in March, the largest monthly increase since May of 2007, while the jobless rate slipped to 9.3 percent from 9.5 in February, the first decline since April 2007.
In addition, revised data showed that employers added 4,000 jobs in February, 2,500 more than first estimated. The job gains were spread across several key sectors.
Financial services added 1,800 jobs, the first monthly increase since October 2008, when stock and credit markets plunged into free fall following the collapse of Wall street investment firm Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc.
Professional and business services, which includes a variety of technology, scientific and research firms, added 1,600 jobs. Retailers, in a sign of rebounding consumer spending, added more than 2,000 jobs in March. Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and hotels and also depends on consumer spending, added 1,400 jobs.
The rebound in the state's labor markets follows solid job gains nationally. US employers added more than 160,000 jobs last month, the first significant national job gains in more than two years, the US Labor Department recently reported. In addition, the national unemployment rate appears to have peaked, remaining at 9.7 percent for the past three months, after rising to 10.1 percent in October.
Today's employment report is the latest evidence that the recovery is taking hold in Massachusetts and gaining strength.
Yesterday, a Federal Reserve survey found that economic conditions were improving broadly in New England as businesses across several sectors reported rising demand, increasing sales and even some hiring.
Last month, Moody's Economy.com, a respected economic forecasting firm in West Chester, Pa., estimated that the state began a recovery in January, based on its analysis of employment, industrial production and other data. Still, some sectors continue to struggle.
Construction, which has lost one in four jobs since the recession began here in March 2008, shed another 900 jobs in March. Employment in manufacturing was flat last month. Education and health services lost 600 jobs in March, but that comes after many months of steady gains. The sector has added 12,000 jobs over the past year. Government added 400 jobs in March. Employment in the information sector, which includes software publishers, was flat last month.