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Mass. Unemployment Rate Remains Unchanged At 8.2 Percent

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts held steady last month.

The latest figures from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development show the state's jobless rate was 8.2 percent in December — the same as November.

Overall the state lost 2,100 jobs, led by losses in leisure and hospitality and construction sectors.

Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein says those sectors were hit hard by the winter.

"Our climate, as is evidenced by the number of snowstorms we had recently, is not hospitable to either of those industries," she said. Goldstein says those sectors should add jobs in the spring.

Gains were reported in trade, transportation and utilities sectors. The state has gained 45,600 jobs over the past year, according to the labor department.

November's jobs numbers were also revised. The state had reported that 8,600 were lost in the month. Thursday's report said 800 jobs were in fact gained in November.

The state's rate remained well below the national jobless rate, which is 9.4 percent. But Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews says the state still has a long way to go.

"Eight-point-two percent, even though it's significantly below the national rate, is still very high and there's a long way for unemployment to fall before it reaches pre-recession levels," he said.

He also offered some cautious optimism for the jobless rate — and the economy — this year.

"2011 should be a year of slow progress in the first half of the year, but then slowly ramping up toward the end and into 2012," Clayton-Matthews said.

This program aired on January 20, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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