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Task Force Will Focus On Pockets Of High Unemployment In Mass.

Gov. Charlie Baker says while the state's overall economic picture is brightening, too many people are still being left behind.

The governor on Thursday created a task force to look into pockets of chronic unemployment in Massachusetts and report back to him by mid-November with recommendations for easing the problem.

"Too many Massachusetts workers have become discouraged as a growing economy unfortunately leaves them behind," Baker said in a statement. "This task force will build upon the workforce development practices we know work and replicate them across the Commonwealth to create more opportunities for employment everywhere."

Baker said the task force will focus on populations experiencing average unemployment rates from 7 to 12 percent, including blacks, Hispanics, some groups of veterans and people with disabilities.

The state's overall unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent in January, the lowest level in Massachusetts since May 2008. And 2014 was the state's strongest year for job growth since 2000.

Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Ron Walker will chair the task force, and it'll also include the secretaries of education; health and human services; housing and economic development; and veterans services.

Its creation comes two weeks after Baker established a similar panel, the earlier one on bridging the so-called workforce skills gap in the state.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

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