Mass. unemployment rate is unchanged at 8.2%
The Massachusetts economy, which expanded rapidly in the in beginning of last year, slowed in December as employers cut jobs and the stateís unemployment rate remained unchanged, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.
Massachusetts companies last month cut more than 2,000 jobs across most sectors, led by leisure and hospitality, a seasonally-sensitive industry that includes restaurants and hotels. The state unemployment rate held at 8.2 percent.
"Overall we see it as a positive," state secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Joanne Goldstein said. "The winter is historically a time when we see a bump in the unemployment rate because of the seasonal industries."
Most economists expected the state economy to slow, in part because of the still struggling US economy, which hurts the many businesses that sell goods and services in national markets. The US unemployment rate, 9.4 percent in December, remains well above the stateís.
Alan Clayton-Matthews, professor of public policy at Northeastern University, said a worldwide burst in demand for technology from India and China in late 2009 and early 2010 benefitted many Massachusetts' companies. And since then, growth has been slow but steady.
"It's the same story for the past few months now: an economy growing more slowly than it had been for the first half of 2010," Clayton-Matthews said. "Unemployment levels are still high, and consumers are not overly confident."
Still, the stateís economy is much improved from a year earlier, when the jobless rate hit 9.3 percent in December 2009, on its way to peaking at 9.5 percent last January. And despite Decemberís job losses, the state added more than 45,000 jobs last year.
In December, only three sectors gained jobs: trade, transportation, and utilities, which added 1,600; government, which added 700; and information, a technology sector, which gained 600.
Leisure and hospitality led the losses, shedding 1,600 jobs. Manufacturing lost 800 jobs; education and health services, which includes hospitals and universities, lost 700; and professional and business services, which includes information technology services, consulting and scientific research firms, shed 600.
Other services, which include repair and personal service firms, lost 600 jobs; construction, shed 500, and financial services, lost 100.