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Mass. unemployment rate ticks up despite more jobs

The Commonwealth's unemployment rate rose to 3.4 percent last month.
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Though Massachusetts added more than 10,000 jobs last month and the labor secretary says more people are working than ever before, the state's unemployment rate ticked up to 3.4 percent in February.

Jobs numbers released Thursday by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development show that 3,503,500 Massachusetts residents were employed and 123,500 were unemployed last month, for a total labor force of 3,626,900 people.

The unemployment rate climbed by 0.2 percentage points from January to 3.4 percent, which remains lower than the national unemployment rate of 4.7 percent as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"This month's report marks a new peak in jobs and the labor force in Massachusetts," Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker said in a statement. "That means more residents are working than ever before. The administration will continue to promote policies that connect those looking for work with the skills and training necessary to access a high demand career."

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The February labor force increased by 27,600 from 3,599,300 in January, with 18,000 more residents employed and 9,700 more residents unemployed.

The labor force participation rate, the percentage of the working age population that is employed or unemployed but actively looking for work, was 65.3 percent, according to LWD.

Last month, job gains occurred in the education and health services; professional, scientific, and business services; construction; manufacturing; and information sectors, LWD said.

From February 2016 to February 2017, the state has added 57,700 jobs.

The state's unemployment rate can rise even while the state is adding jobs, as was the case in February, if the number of people seeking work in a month grows by a greater proportion than does the number of people finding work that month.

 
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