Massachusetts unemployment dropped in July 2014 Credit: Reuters
Massachusetts employers added 13,800 jobs in July, leaving the state with a 5.6 percent unemployment rate.
State officials on Thursday morning reported the latest employment snapshot, which shows the state added 67,300 jobs over the past year.
While the jobless rate in July ticked up from 5.5 percent in June, it's below the 6.2 percent U.S. unemployment rate and 1.6 percent below the 7.2 percent Massachusetts jobless rate in July 2013.
The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development originally reported adding 3,700 jobs in June but said Thursday the gain was actually 2,500, citing revised Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers.
Massachusetts policymakers are experimenting with ways to create jobs in areas outside of the metropolitan Boston area, especially in cities where jobless rates have traditionally been significantly higher than inside the Route 128 belt that runs around eastern Massachusetts cities and towns where economic growth has been stronger.
In late July, the state reported seasonally unadjusted jobless rates of 7.3 percent in the Leominster, Fitchburg, Gardner area, 8.2 percent in the New Bedford area, and 8.5 percent in the Lawrence, Methuen, Salem area.
Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday signed a $78 million economic development bill that directs funds to brownfield cleanup efforts, data industry workforce development and grants for local developments. Patrick also refiled proposals that he believes will further spur the economy by limiting the ability of companies to use non-compete agreements with employees and removing the state cap on local liquor licenses, giving authority to municipal licensing commissions. Those proposals appear unlikely to advance in the Legislature.
Other than government jobs, which were down by 2,200 in July, Massachusetts added jobs across major sectors, with the biggest gains in professional services (5,000), education and health services (3,800), construction (1,900) and trade, transportation and utilities (1,900).
The news comes amid continued turmoil at Market Basket, the supermarket chain where employees have walked off the job in Massachusetts to protest the ouster of former CEO Arthur T. DeMoulas. Gov. Patrick on Wednesday urged employees to return to work and reported civil talks among chain officials involved in the large family business.
Separately, state life sciences officials are encouraged by reports that GE Healthcare is planning to create a new U.S. headquarters in Massachusetts for its life sciences division, a development with major job implications.
The new jobs data also adds another variable to the wide open race for governor. With two independent candidates in the race and voters set to nominate Democratic and Republican party candidates in less than a month, the contenders are trying to persuade voters that they have the best ideas for accelerating job growth.
The July jobs report showed 195,700 people in Massachusetts were unemployed last month. The size of the state's labor force in July increased by 9,500 and is up by more than 24,000 since July 2013.
The jobless rate and jobs estimates are derived from different surveys, and as a result do not always trend in the same direction. The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households and the jobs estimates are based on a monthly survey of employers.