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Mass. Jobless Rate Drops To 6.5 Percent; 500 Jobs Added In Feb.

The state's jobless rate, over the last 13 months

The state’s jobless rate, over the last 13 months

BOSTON — The Massachusetts economy added just an estimated 500 jobs in February, but the state’s unemployment rate fell from 6.7 percent to 6.5 percent, according to the monthly report from the Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

The two data points are derived from separate surveys.

The labor report, released Thursday, also revised upward the state’s January jobs gain, from an initial report of 16,100 jobs to 18,900.

With January’s revisions, the state labor department says Massachusetts has now surpassed pre-recession overall jobs levels. In April 2008, the state had 3,304,300 jobs; now, there are 3,318,500 jobs in Massachusetts, according to current estimates.

In February, the professional, scientific and business services sector added the most jobs over the month, with 3,200. The government sector, which includes local, state and federal positions, also grew substantially, as 2,800 jobs were gained in February.

The education and health services sector lost the most jobs in the month, shedding an estimated 3,600 positions.

The state’s 6.5 percent jobless rate remains below the national rate, which was 7.7 percent in February.

The Massachusetts report Thursday comes after a surprisingly strong U.S. labor report on March 8, which found that the nation’s economy added 236,000 jobs to payrolls in February.

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve announced that it is maintaining its stimulative bond-buying program and its benchmark interest rate at near zero, in an effort to continue to drive down the nation’s unemployment rate.

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