, Newburyport, MA

November 16, 2012

Unemployment rate ticks up again in October

Local communities below state average

By Michael Norton

---- — BOSTON — Massachusetts employers reported adding 7,900 jobs in October, but the state’s unemployment rate, derived from a monthly sample of households, edged up another notch.

Job gains in recent months have not been sufficient to pull down the unemployment rate, which rose to 6.6 percent in October from 6.5 percent in September. Some economists have attributed the conflicting trends to more people entering the workforce.

The jobless rate in August was 6.3 percent and the rate had fallen as low as 6 percent in May and June. Unemployment during the last recession peaked in October 2009 at 8.7 percent.

The spike in jobs last month gives the state a net addition of 43,000 jobs over the past year. However, state officials reported yesterday the Massachusetts labor force last month was larger by 19,700 people, compared to a year ago. And estimates showed about 230,200 of the state’s residents were unemployed.

Over the past year, significant job gains in professional services, leisure and hospitality and the trade, transportation and utilities sectors have been offset by minimal job growth in education and health services, manufacturing and financial activities, and job losses in government and the construction sector.

Local figures for October will not be released until the end of the month. The most recent figures — for September — show unemployment rates in Neburyport and surrounding communities to be below the state average. The lowest rate was in West Newbury at 5.2 percent, followed by Newburyport and Rowley at 5.3 percent, Salisbury at 5.6 percent, Amesbury at 5.8 percent and Merrimac at 6.0 percent. In September 2011, unemployment rates were about 1 percent higher in each local community; Salisbury was nearly 2 percent higher.

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development also revised downward its report of September job gains. Initially reported at 5,100 jobs, the September gains were adjusted to 2,700 jobs.

According to the Bay State jobs data released yesterday:

Construction added 2,400 jobs in October. Over the year, construction jobs are down 2,300.

Professional, scientific and business services gained 2,400 jobs in October. Over the year, the sector has added 26,300 jobs.

Financial activities added 1,700 jobs last month and the sector has netted 1,000 jobs over the year.

Education and health services gained 1,300 jobs in October, but net jobs over the year total only 200.

Manufacturing added 400 jobs in October and has added 700 jobs over the year.

The information sector gained 200 jobs last month and has added 2,600 jobs over the year.

Trade, transportation and utilities lost 700 jobs last month, but the sector is up 7,900 jobs over the year.

Leisure and hospitality lost 200 jobs last month, but has added 8,200 jobs over the year largely in the accommodation and food services industry.

Government added 400 jobs last month and government jobs over the year are down by 1,500. Amid budget-related restrictions on hiring, state government added 200 jobs in October.