Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Holds at 6.9 Percent

By contributor,

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported on March 8 that the preliminary January 2012 estimates show that Massachusetts added 6,600 jobs over the month, for a total of 3,218,400 jobs. The total unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, unchanged from the revised December 2011 rate and well below the national rate of 8.3 percent. It is the lowest monthly rate since December 2008.

In January 2012, the private sector added 7,900 jobs. Seven of the ten private sectors produced gains, the largest of which occurred in Professional, Scientific, and Business Services and Trade, Transportation, and Utilities.

Annual year-end revisions and updated seasonal adjustment factors resulted in changes to the state historical series for the years 1990 to 2011. Over the year (January 2011 to January 2012), the Bay State added 12,200 jobs while the private sector added 15,900 jobs during that period.

Employment Overview
Professional, Scientific, and Business Services added 3,500 (+0.7%) jobs over the month, the sector’s seventh monthly gain. All three of the components added jobs within the sector. Over the year, Professional, Scientific, and Business Services added 11,200 (+2.4%) jobs; this gain is due mostly to growth in Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services, which added 8,300 (+3.3%) jobs.

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 1,800 (+0.3%) jobs over the month with gains in Retail Trade and Transportation. Over the year, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 7,200 (+1.3%) jobs: Retail Trade added 4,900 (+1.4%) jobs; Transportation added 2,000 (+2.4%) jobs; and Wholesale Trade added 300 (+0.2%) jobs.

Leisure and Hospitality added 1,700 (+0.6%) jobs over the month due to gains in both components. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality lost 1,200 (-0.4%) jobs.

Construction added 1,000 (+0.9%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction lost 1,800 (-1.7%) jobs.

Other Services added 1,000 (+0.8%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Other Services added 4,700 (+3.9%) jobs.

Information added 700 (+0.9%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Information lost 1,400 (-1.7%) jobs.

Financial Activities added 300 (+0.1%) jobs over the month due to the gain in Real Estate and Rental and Leasing. Over the year, Financial Activities lost 1,700 (-0.8%) jobs: Finance and Insurance lost 1,800 (-1.1%) jobs, but Real Estate, Rental and Leasing added 100 (+0.3%) jobs.

Education and Health Services lost 1,600 (-0.2%) jobs over the month; both components recorded losses. Health Care and Social Assistance lost 1,100 (-0.2%) jobs and Educational Services lost 500 (-0.3%) jobs. Over the year, Education and Health Services lost 3,000 (-0.4%) jobs.

Manufacturing lost 400 (-0.2%) jobs over the month due to the loss in Non-Durable Goods. Over the year, Manufacturing added 2,100 (+0.8%) jobs.

Mining and Logging lost 100 (-9.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Mining and Logging lost 200 (-16.7%) jobs.

Government lost 1,300 (-0.3%) jobs over the month. Local Government added 1,000 (+0.4%) jobs, but State Government lost 1,300 jobs (-1.1%) and Federal Government lost 1,000 (-2.1%) jobs. Over the year, Government lost 3,700 (-0.9%) jobs; losses occurred at all three levels. State Government in particular lost 2,300 jobs over the year.

Labor Force Overview
The January 2012 estimates show 3,218,500 Massachusetts residents were employed and 237,500 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,455,900. Since the rate peaked at 8.7 percent in October 2009, there are 58,000 more residents employed and 63,500 fewer residents unemployed. Totals for January may not sum exactly 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 January exhibit different trends.

Extended Benefits Update
Massachusetts will trigger off the extended benefits (EB) program, which currently provides up to thirteen additional weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits. EB is a federal supplemental program that pays extended compensation during a period of specified high unemployment. EB will be available through April 7, 2012. At that point, an estimated 10,000 claimants will no longer be eligible for this program, since Massachusetts no longer meets the extension criteria. The other federally funded extension programs that remain available provide up to 73 weeks of coverage for those who are eligible. For more information about unemployment insurance extension programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dua/eb. The state’s 34 One-Stop Career Centers are available to all individuals. Job-seekers who are losing benefits are encouraged to continue to take advantage of the opportunities, please visit, www.mass.gov/careercenters to learn more about the career centers. Information about mortgage programs, fuels assistance and much more can be found at www.mass211.org.