Massachusetts Economic Data Visualizations

Massachusetts Economic Data Visualizations

Six-month trends in the unemployment rate and jobs numbers

In order to help policy makers, researchers, the press, and other interested parties better access and interpret current and historical economic data in Massachusetts, the Department of Unemployment’s Economic Research Division provides economic data visualizations alongside the monthly job and unemployment rate releases.

Month to month unemployment rate and job numbers are released as preliminary data and are subject to monthly and annual revisions.

Unemployment Rate

The June unemployment rate in Massachusetts, which is the percentage of the working age population who are unemployed and actively seeking work, was 4.3%, an increase of .1% over the previous month, and a 1.3% increase over the year. This is the sixth consecutive monthly rate increase in the unemployment rate, but the lowest month to month increase of 2017. The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains .1% below the U.S. rate.

Labor Force

The June labor force in Massachusetts, the amount of people working or actively seeking work, is now at 3,708,600. Since the beginning of 2017, the labor force is up by 121,400, which is the largest six-month increase since they began taking records in this way in 1976.

Labor Force Participation Rate

The June labor force participation rate, the percentage of the working age population that is participating in the workforce, is at 66.7%, which is unchanged from the previous month. This is the highest the rate has has been since October of 2008. The Massachusetts labor force participation rate is currently 4 percent higher than the U.S rate. June marks the largest six-month increase to the Massachusetts labor force participation since they began taking records this way in 1976.

Unemployment Claimants

The June unemployment claimant total, which measures the amount of people who have filed and are collecting benefits due to a loss of employment through no fault of their own, was 54,494 which is 55,656 less than the claimant totals for April of 2016. The year to date unemployment claimant totals for 2017 are also down from the first six months of 2016.

Unemployment Claimants by Industry

When the monthly unemployment claimants are broken down by industry it is apparent that recent levels of unemployment are not necessarily being driven by increases in claimants across industries. Rather they appear to be driven by cyclical unemployment levels by industry – such as construction claimant spikes in the winter (blue line) in red and school bus drivers in the summer (red line).

Jobs Numbers

Massachusetts gained 10,000 jobs in June. The job numbers are calculated separately from the unemployment rate and are produced by surveying thousands of employers across the Commonwealth. Job growth for the first six months of 2017 in Massachusetts is higher than the first six months of 2016.

Job Growth By Industry

Job growth for the first six months of 2017 was concentrated in key sectors of the economy like Business, Professional, and Scientific services (gained 13,900 jobs) as well as Health and Education Services (gained 28,200 jobs).

Key Insights

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.