Unemployment dips in Massachusetts; 14,100 jobs gained in February

The Massachusetts unemployment rate edged down seven tenths of a percentage point to 7.1%, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced Friday.

That 7.1% is the state’s best unemployment rate since it was 2.7% in March 2020, the last month before pandemic-related shutdowns were felt in the economy.

Massachusetts gained 14,100 jobs in February following a gain of 37,900 jobs in January.

The state lost 325,100 jobs on the year, according to numbers released Friday by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics and the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Local jobless numbers are not yet available for February. But according to the January 2021 numbers, Greater Springfield has an unemployment rate of 8.5%.

The February unemployment rate was nine tenths of a percentage point higher than the national rate of 6.2% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Unemployment rates were lower in February in 23 states and the District of Columbia, higher in four states, and stable in 23 states, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Hawaii and New York had the highest unemployment rates in February: 9.2% for Hawaii and 8.9% in New York, respectively. South Dakota, 2.9%, and Utah, 3% , had the lowest rates.

The numbers released Friday show that some are dropping out of the workforce altogether.

The February labor force decreased by 11,900 from 3,744,800 in January, as 15,700 more residents were employed and 27,600 fewer residents were unemployed over the month, the state said. The labor force participation rate, the share of working-age population employed and unemployed, dropped two-tenths of a percentage point at 66.3 percent.

The labor force was down 2,400 from the 3,747,200 February 2020 estimate, with 164,900 fewer residents employed and 162,500 more residents unemployed.

On Thursday, the federal and state governments announced that new claims for unemployment compensation surged in Massachusetts to 30,243 for the week ending March 20 — up more than 10,000 claims from 19,530 the week before.

This despite new claims for unemployment being down nationally to pre-pandemic levels.

Jobs numbers and employment numbers come from two different sources. Jobs numbers come from a survey of employers. The unemployment numbers come from a survey of households.

Job gains and losses by sector of the economy:

  • Leisure and Hospitality gained 10,300 (+4.0%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality lost 115,500 (-30.1%) jobs.
  • Professional, Scientific and Business Services gained 9,400 (+1.6%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Professional, Scientific and Business Services lost 14,800 (-2.4%) jobs.
  • Trade, Transportation and Utilities gained 2,000 (+0.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Trade, Transportation and Utilities lost 24,800 (-4.3%) jobs.
  • Education and Health Services gained 1,300 (+0.2%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Education and Health Services lost 74,000 (-8.9%) jobs.
  • Manufacturing gained 1,200 (+0.5%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Manufacturing lost -13,400 (-5.5%) jobs.
  • Financial Activities gained 800 (+0.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Financial Activities lost 3,500 (-1.6%) jobs.
  • Other Services had no over the month change in employment. Over the year, Other Services are down –26,900 (-19.0%) jobs.
  • Information lost 300 (-0.3%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Information lost 6,900 (-7.3%) jobs.
  • Construction lost 2,300 (-1.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction has lost 5,100 (-3.1%) jobs.
  • Government lost 8,200 (-1.9%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Government lost 40,200 (-8.7%) jobs.

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