State unemployment rate rises to 5.5
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) reported last week that the Massachusetts unemployment rate increased from 5.3 percent in September to 5.5 percent in October.
The Massachusetts unemployment rate was a full percentage point lower than the national rate, which rose from 6.1 percent in September to 6.5 percent in October. The Massachusetts rate has been below the national rate each month since June 2007.
The state's unemployment rate averaged 4.9 percent for the first 10 months of 2008, according to EOLWD, up from the 4.5 percent rate for the comparable period in 2007. The U.S average for this same 10-month period rose from 4.6 percent in 2007 to 5.5 percent in 2008.
Preliminary estimates show that Massachusetts lost 7,000 jobs in October following a revised estimate of a decline of 3,100 in September. Three sectors added jobs over the month, with the largest gains in professional, scientific, and business services. Seven sectors recorded job losses over the month, as the impact of the national downturn reaches more sectors in the Bay State. At 3,284,200, jobs are up 2,200 from one year ago.
Education and health services lost 900 jobs in October due to jobs in educational services not returning to anticipated seasonal levels; health care and social assistance employment was unchanged. At 638,900, education and health services continues to generate the most jobs, adding 12,700 jobs and the highest annual growth rate, up 2.0 percent from one year ago, with health care and social assistance creating most of the jobs.
Jobs in the professional, scientific, and business services sector increased 1,100 in October, to 489,200, due to slightly higher than expected gains in temporary help. Over the year, employment is up 6,000, or 1.2 percent, with all of the gains in professional, scientific, and technical services.
Financial activities employment was off 200 over the month, with a 900-job loss in real estate, rental, and leasing, mostly offset by a 700-job increase in finance and insurance. At 221,500, the financial activities sector is down 2,800 jobs from one year ago, mostly due to a decline of 2,000 jobs in real estate, rental, and leasing.
Trade, transportation, and utilities shed 2,700 jobs in October due to losses in transportation, warehousing, retail trade, and wholesale trade. At 565,300, this sector posted the largest over-the-month decline and is down 4,500 from one year ago, due to job declines of 6,200 in retail trade which were only partially offset by gains in wholesale trade (plus 1,100) and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (plus 600).
Leisure and hospitality jobs were down 1,600 in October, with losses divided between arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services. At 300,500, jobs are off 500 over the year, with a 1,500-job loss in arts, entertainment, and recreation partially offset by a 1,000-job increase in accommodation and food services.
Information jobs were up 200 in October, to 89,200. Employment in the information super sector is off 300 over the year, due to weakness in newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishing now being larger than the increases in software publishing.
Manufacturing jobs were off 900 in October, due to losses on both durable and nondurable goods; manufacturing employment has reached a new low level of 289,600. Over the year, jobs are down 4,400, or 1.5 percent.
Construction jobs were down 2,300 in October. At 131,600, jobs are down 6,000, or 4.4 percent, from one year ago. The job loss and the percentage loss represent the largest percentage decline of any sector.
The job numbers are the result of a monthly survey that uses U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics methodology. More than 9,000 Massachusetts employers are surveyed to determine the number of jobs by industry. These estimates are the economic indicator used to gauge the Commonwealth's employment growth patterns.
Detailed labor market information is available at www.mass.gov/lmi.