Mass. unemployment rate remains at 8.3 percent
Massachusetts' unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent in January as employers adding 5,600 jobs, the state's Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today.
State officials also released revised employment data that showed the state suffered a milder recession than initially reported, with unemployment peaking at 8.8 percent in October 2009, instead of 9.5 percent in January 2010. The revisions also showed 24,000 fewer job lost during the recession that began in Massachusetts in the spring of 2008 and ended the summer of 2009.
The US Labor Department revises state employment and unemployment data annually based on more complete information that becomes available from employers and statistical agencies over the year. In Massachusetts, job losses during the recession were revised downward to 143,000 jobs, or 4 percent of employment, from 167,000 jobs, or 5 percent.
Michael D. Goodman, an economic analyst and professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, said the state's job growth in January is a welcome sign as food and gas prices rise and the stock market becomes increasingly volatile. Massachusetts' unemployment rate remains below the national rate of 9 percent.
"I think it's very encouraging. We are growing, we appear to be adding jobs, and we had a better year than the nation," Goodman said. "We're still below the number of jobs we had when we went into the recession, but there are areas of the economy where jobs were created."
Professional, scientific and business services sectors led state job gains last month, adding 6,700 jobs. Education and health services, the state's largest employment sector, added 400 jobs in the last month, and 10,600 over the past year.
Construction added 500 jobs last month. Over the year, however, construction employment is still down 2,300 jobs.
Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and hotels, lost 600 jobs in January. Manufacturing lost 1,900 in January, but has gained 900 over the past year.