Though the unemployment rate has gone up for six consecutive months, this is largely due to substantial gains in the total labor force not increases in job losses across sectors. The marked increases in the labor force is a positive sign for a growing economy, and should help ease the tight labor market pressures. Also, 4.3% is a historically low rate of unemployment in Massachusetts even after the last six monthly increases to the rate. If during the first six months of 2017 Massachusetts had experienced increases in the unemployment rate alongside flat or downward labor force trends, as well as increases to our unemployment claimant rolls, the unemployment rate increases would be cause for concern. However, that is not the case. During 2017 we have seen substantial labor force gains - over 100,000 either newly employed or newly actively seeking work. And despite the onset of baby boomer retirements, our labor force participation rate continues to increase and is 3.9% above the national rate. Plus, Massachusetts experienced increased job growth in the first months of 2017 compared to 2016 as well as less unemployment claimants year to date.
In addition to the monthly numbers related to jobs and unemployment, the Department of Unemployment’s Economic Research Division publishes additional data visualizations on topics such as job training programs, job inflows and outflows between states, and occupational projections that can be seen here. If you have any questions about these numbers or would like to receive a brief tutorial on how to navigate these economic data maps please contact Charles.Pearce@State.MA.US.