Massachusetts unemployment rate holds steady at 6.6 percent for November

The Massachusetts unemployment rate held steady at 6.6 percent in November after four straight months of increases, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said in a Thursday press release.

During the month of November, the local economy lost 1,100 jobs, the office said. From November 2011 to November 2012, jobs are up 46,600 in the Bay State.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Labor reported that the nation’s unemployment rate for November was 7.7 percent, down from 7.9 percent in October.

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In Massachusetts, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday that the Massachusetts economy had a revised gain of 11,900 jobs in October. The original estimate, issued on Nov. 15, was an increase of 7,900 jobs.

Many companies seem to be putting off hiring as they wait for the “fiscal cliff” debate to play out in Washington, D.C. The fiscal cliff is a term given to steep tax hikes and deep spending cuts set to go in effect in January unless Congress and President Obama can reach a compromise on reducing deficits.

A monthly business confidence index maintained by the Associated Industries of Massachusetts suggests that many local employers are concerned that economic conditions may deteriorate if Congress and the president can’t come to an agreement.

“There’s great uncertainty out there,” said Andre Mayer, AIM”s senior vice president of communications and research. “Everybody’s kind of on hold, and nothing much is moving.”

Given the Bay State’s dependence on defense spending, potential cuts in the Pentagon budget could have a big impact on the local job market.

Hiring is a major commitment by an employer, Mayer said, and “employers are reluctant to do it when they’re not clear about what might happen next.”

Meanwhile, the unemployment report that the state issued Thursday included job gains and losses for various sectors of the local economy.

The trade, transportation, and utilities sector added 5,500 jobs during November. And the education and health services sector posted a gain of 1,100 jobs.

On the down-side, the leisure and hospitality sector lost 4,000 jobs. As for the manufacturing sector, it shed 2,600 jobs in November, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said.