Mass Unemployment Rate Drops to 6.5 Percent

By contributor,

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development today reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary March 2012 estimates show that Massachusetts added 8,700 jobs over the month, for a total of 3,241,600 jobs. The March job gain follows a revised 7,200 job gain in February. The total unemployment rate dropped to 6.5 percent, 0.4 percentage points below the February rate of 6.9 percent and well below the national rate of 8.2 percent.

The private sector added 8,900 jobs in March. Five of the ten private sectors added jobs; the largest gains occurred in Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; Trade, Transportation, and Utilities; and Education and Health Services.

Year to date, the Bay State added 29,800 jobs; the private sector added 31,200 jobs. Over the year, the Bay State added 30,300 jobs; the private sector added 34,600 jobs.

Employment Overview

  • Professional, Scientific, and Business Services added 4,900 (+1.0%) jobs over the month, the sector’s ninth monthly gain. Over the year, the sector added 17,000 (+3.6%) jobs due mostly to growth in Professional, Scientific, and TechnicalServices, which added 9,600 (+3.8%) jobs.
  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 2,800 (+0.5%) jobs over the month with gains in two of the three components. Year to date, the sector added 6,900 (+1.3%) jobs. Over the year, the sector added 10,700 (+2.0%) jobs, as Retail Tradeadded 8,100 (+2.4%) jobs.
  • Education and Health Services added 2,500 (+0.4%) jobs over the month with gains in both components. Health Care and Social Assistance added 2,100 (+0.4%) jobs and Educational Services added 400 (+0.3%) jobs. Over the year, Educationand Health Services added 2,300 (+0.3%) jobs.
  • Manufacturing added 300 (+0.1%) jobs over the month as the gain in Durable Goods outweighed the loss in Non-Durable Goods. Over the year, Manufacturing added 1,700 (+0.7%) jobs.
  • Other Services gained 100 (+0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, the sector added 2,700 (+2.3%) jobs.
  • Mining and Logging employment remained unchanged both over the month and over the year.
  • onstruction lost 700 (-0.6%) jobs over the month. Over the year, the sector lost 1,200 (-1.1%) jobs. However, year to date, the sector added 1,300 (+1.2%) jobs.
  • Leisure and Hospitality lost 600 (-0.2%) jobs over the month as the loss in Accommodation and Food Services outweighed the gain in Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. This follows February’s revised gain of 5,400 (+1.7%) jobs and is thesector’s first monthly loss since October 2011. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality added 5,400 (+1.7%) jobs.
  • Financial Activities lost 300 (-0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, the sector lost 2,800 (-1.4%) jobs as Finance and Insurance lost 2,100 (-1.3%) jobs and Real Estate, Rental and Leasing lost 700 (-1.8%) jobs.
  • Information lost 100 (-0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, the sector lost 1,200 (-1.4%) jobs.
  • Government lost 200 (0.0%) jobs over the month. Federal Government added 100 (+0.2%) jobs, while State Government employment remained unchanged. Local Government lost 300 (-0.1%) jobs. Over the year, Government lost 4,300 (-1.0%) jobs.

Labor Force Overview

The March 2012 estimates show 3,227,600 Massachusetts residents were employed and 226,100 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,453,600. Over the month, 11,900 fewer residents were unemployed and 7,400 more residents were employed. At 3,227,600, the number of employed residents is the highest since January 2009. Since the unemployment rate peaked at 8.7 percent in October 2009, there are 67,100 more residents employed and 74,900 fewer residents unemployed. Totals for March may not sumexactly due to rounding.

The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households. The job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics for March exhibit different trends.


Beginning with the March 2011 estimates, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has assumed responsibility for the production of the CES State and sub-state jobs estimates. BLS has also implemented methodological changes which may increasethe month to month variability of the estimates. See Changes to procedures for producing Current Employment Statistics (CES) State estimates.

Local area unemployment statistics for March 2012 will be released on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. The April 2012 unemployment rate and labor force data for Massachusetts will be released on Thursday, May 17, 2012. See RevisedMedia Advisory for a complete list of release dates.

Detailed labor market information is available at