Massachusetts unemployment rate falls to 7.1%

Employers added 14,100 jobs in February as the state’s unemployment rate fell to 7.1% — still above the national average.

The joblessness rate dropped 0.7 percentage points from January, and it now stands at the lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic hit more than a year ago. February’s rate was 0.9 percentage points higher than the national rate of 6.2%.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains more than twice as high as the 2.7% joblessness rate reported in March 2020, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data based on a household survey.

Using a separate survey of employers, labor officials estimated that the private sector in Massachusetts gained 22,300 jobs in February while government employment dropped by 8,200.

The leisure and hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes to business that came with public health precautions, reported the largest gain with 10,300 jobs over the month. Professional, scientific and business services added 9,400 positions, followed by trade, transportation and utilities with 2,000, education and health services with 1,300, manufacturing with 1,200 and financial activities with 800.

Overall employment in Massachusetts remains about 325,000 jobs below February 2020 levels.

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