The Massachusetts unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent last month as employers added 2,500 jobs, more evidence of improving but far from stellar job growth.
It was the fifth consecutive month of reported job gains in Massachusetts, and the lowest unemployment rate since October 2008, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. Massachusetts employers have added more than 31,000 jobs since the beginning of the year, including 7,500 jobs in March.
“It’s not great growth, but it’s decent,” Northeastern University economics professor Alan Clayton-Matthews said. “Adding 31,100 jobs so far this year is a pretty good start.”
He added: “The state has been undergoing a recovery now for over two years. It’s been at a moderate pace and it is making an impact. It’s sort of the little choo-choo that could.”
Massachusetts has rebounded from the recession faster than the nation as a whole; the state unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in March, significantly lower than the U.S. unemployment rate of 8.1 percent last month.
However, Massachusetts has yet to recover from the steep job losses it suffered during the downturn. The state lost 143,000 jobs in the recession that began in Massachusetts in May 2008, but has the state has regained just 81,500 of them through April.
“We continue to have relatively slow job creation,” said Andre Mayer, senior vice president for research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the trade group representing hundreds of state businesses. “We have a lot of people still out of work and we aren’t yet at the point of sustained growth at a level that really puts people back to work.”
Mayer added that the gains have been distributed unevenly in in Massachusetts, mostly benefitting people living in Eastern Massachusetts, where many of the state’s high tech and biotechnology companies are located.
“This is not a different situation than what we’ve been looking at for the last couple of years,” Mayer said. “We continue to add jobs where you might expect to add jobs.”
The state’s technology sector continues to fuel Massachusetts’ job growth. The professional, scientific, and business services sector, which includes a variety of technology, research, and consulting firms, added 4,200 jobs last month. The sector has created nearly 20,000 jobs since last April, growing about four times faster than the state’s overall job growth rate.
In other growing sectors, gains were modest last month. Five of the 10 private employment sectors tracked by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development added jobs in April.
Trade, transportation, and utilities added 900 jobs. Information, another tech sector, added 600. Also adding jobs last month were leisure and hospitality, which gained 600 and financial services, which gained 300.
Construction shed 1,300 jobs last month, and manufacturing—which has remained relatively flat for most of the year—lost 1,200 jobs in April.
Personal, repair, and other services lost 400 while education and health care shed 300. Over the year, the sector added 2,200 jobs.
Education and Health Services lost 300 jobs over the month. Government employment fell by 900 jobs in April. Over the year, government has shed 3,600 positions.
The monthly employment and unemployment figures are estimates from data collected by the US Labor Department and subject to frequent revision.Megan Woolhouse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org