NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

December 24, 2012

Massachusetts jobless rate hangs at 6.6 percent

BOSTON — Despite losing 1,100 jobs, the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in November at 6.6 percent.

According to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, November’s job losses follow a gain of 11,900 jobs during October — 4,000 more than originally reported, according to the Executive Officer of Labor and Workforce Development.

Approximately 230,200 Massachusetts residents were unemployed in November – up slightly from October. Massachusetts employers have added 46,600 jobs since November 2011, the state reported.

In November 2011, the unemployment rate was 7 percent. The state’s unemployment rate peaked at 8.7 percent in October 2009, and dipped to a recent low of 6 percent in May and June 2012.

Jobs gains last month in trade, transportation and utilities — which added 5,500 jobs combined – and growth in education and health services with 1,100 new jobs were offset by job losses in leisure and hospitality, government, construction, manufacturing and professional, scientific and business services.

The new numbers point to “essentially nothing happening,” said Andre Mayer, Associated Industries of Massachusetts senior vice president for research. The bigger news, he said, was the revised job gain in October. “If that holds up, that is a pretty good month,” Mayer said.

Significant losses in leisure and hospitality do not point to any trends because it is such a volatile sector, Mayer said. Manufacturing job losses do indicate employers are still cautious about hiring, taking a wait-and-see approach, he said.

“I suspect the decline in manufacturing — that may be partly a slowdown in exports, particularly because we export a lot of products to Europe,” Mayer said. “More important, there is tremendous uncertainty out there.”

Many manufacturers are reluctant to add employees, he said, largely because of the uncertainty surrounding possible federal spending cuts and tax increases.

According to the data released last week:

The trade, transportation and utilities sector has added 12,300 jobs over the year, with retail trade adding 7,500 jobs.

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