Mass. unemployment rate drops to 8.1 percent
The Massachusetts unemployment rate dove to its lowest level in 18 months in October as hiring rebounded broadly, the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.
The state jobless rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.4 percent in September, and it has plunged nearly a percentage point since mid-summer. Massachusetts employers, meanwhile, added 10,000 jobs, led by gains in the state's largest employment sector, education and health services.
The gains represented a strong rebound from September, when Massachusetts employers slashed more than 20,000 jobs. They also reflected solid job gains nationally in October, when the US economy created more than 150,000 jobs.
Massachusetts, which relies more on technology and business spending and less on housing and consumer spending, has so far recovered from the recent recession faster than the nation as a whole. The state's unemployment rate, the lowest since April 2009, is now 1.5 percentage points below the national rate of 9.6 percent.
Many economists, however, expect economic growth to slow as the state feels the effects of struggling national and foreign economies, which provide markets for many Massachusetts companies. Yesterday, the New England Economic Partnership, a nonprofit forecasting group, projected the state's economy will decelerate noticeably over the next several months, resulting in anemic job growth through the first part of next year.
Still, Governor Deval Patrick called October's job gains and decline in unemployment "promising economic news."
"Job creation has been priority number one since day one," Patrick said in statement. "Putting people to work will remain at the top of my agenda because, despite these positive developments, we have more to do."
The state has added nearly 50,000 jobs since the labor market began its recovery at the beginning of the year, but employment levels remain about 120,000 jobs below the pre-recession peak in the spring of 2008. The New England Economic Partnership, which expects job growth to accelerate again later next year, projects the state will recover all the jobs lost in the recession by early 2013.
October's job gains were led by education and health services, which added 5,100 jobs, after shedding more than 7,000 in September. Leisure and hospitality, which lost nearly 12,000 jobs in September, regained 2,800 in October.
Manufacturing added 1,200 jobs last month; financial services gained 600, and information, a technology sector that includes software publishers, added 400. Government gained 1,500 jobs.
Three major sectors shed jobs in October: construction lost 1,500; professional and business services, 900; and trade, transportation, and utilities, 500.
To read the press release on unemployment issued by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, please click here.