Mass. Unemployment Rate Jumps To 9.4 Percent

Massachusetts' unemployment rate jumped to 9.4 percent in December after dropping for two consecutive months, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday.

Nobody ever said the state’s jobless rate had peaked and was on its way down. But the increase from 8.7 percent was the last thing Joanne Goldstein, the new state labor secretary, wanted to face on her second day on the job.

Goldstein said she’s worried, but she cautioned against reading too much into last month’s figures. “I don’t know that one month is indicative of what’s going on," she said, "and certainly December is probably the least indicative month."

That’s because companies often slow their hiring over the holidays, Goldstein said, while other businesses take winter breaks.

The number of jobs was down 8,400 last month, driven by a loss of 5,000 jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities sector; 3,400 in leisure and hospitality; and 3,300 in retail. Construction lost 1,800 jobs after gaining jobs in the previous two months.

On the other hand, the education and health services sector added 1,000 jobs in December, the third consecutive monthly gain. Financial services also added jobs for the first time since May.

Those gains helped the Massachusetts employment rate remain below the national average of 10 percent.

This program aired on January 21, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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Curt Nickisch Business & Technology Reporter
Curt Nickisch was formerly WBUR's business and technology reporter.



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