Mass unemployment numbers hold steady at 7.6 percent

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts held steady in July for a third consecutive month, hanging at 7.6 percent despite the addition of 12,700 jobs fueled by seasonal hiring, the State House News Service reported.

Unchanged since May, the state unemployment rate remains 1.5 percentage points below the national 9.1 percent rate. There are still 263,400 residents unemployed in Massachusetts, a decrease of 41,000 since October 2009.

“We obviously want to see the rate come down but it’s encouraging that jobs are being added,” Lt. Gov. Tim Murray said after announcing a science, technology, engineering, and math initiative at a Boston hotel.

Asked if national economic turmoil was hurting the state’s ability to grow jobs, Murray said, “I think it affects everything, and I think it’s unfortunate.”

As the federal government looks to make spending cuts and mulls job creation ideas, Murray said an unwillingness among elected officials in Washington to compromise was hampering “certainty and predictability” for businesses.

Massachusetts has added 56,800 jobs since July 2010 for a growth rate of 1.8 percent. The private sector has added 61,900 jobs over the past year, and 53,000 jobs have been created in 2011, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

The July job gains follow a revised 9,400 job gain in June, 1,000 fewer jobs than initially reported.

State officials reported job growth last month in six of 10 private sector areas.

The education and health services sector gained 3,000 jobs, the majority of which, about 2,600 jobs, were added in the health care and social assistance fields.

Other services added 3,800 jobs — a result of seasonal hiring that took place later this year than in previous years, according to the data, while manufacturing jobs were up 2,400.

Trade, transportation and utilities gained 2,900 jobs; professional, scientific and business services gained 700 jobs; and the financial sector was up 600 jobs.

Job losses were recorded in the information sector, which shed 200 jobs despite having the strongest rate of growth over the past year at 5 percent.

Construction also lost 1,500 jobs following a 1,900 job gain in June, and leisure and hospitality lost 100 jobs after state officials revised a previously reported 1,400 job gain in June to reflect an actual 1,800 job loss.

Government gained 1,100 jobs in July across all job levels. Over the past year the government sector has lost 5,100 jobs with decreases at the federal and state levels offsetting growth in local government jobs.

The Patrick administration said methodological changes implemented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics earlier this year are causing “volatile changes” to monthly job estimates.