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Massachusetts Adds Over 19,000 Jobs In April... Maybe

This article is more than 13 years old.

Massachusetts added 19,100 jobs last month, according to the encouraging conclusion of the latest employment report. That’s the biggest monthly job gain in 17 years.

Overall, the unemployment rate for April fell to 9.2 percent, noticeably below the national average of 9.9 percent.

The jobs surge was spurred by the professional, scientific and business services sectors, as well as construction.

Gov. Deval Patrick touted the positive jobs report at a bridge construction site in Chelsea Thursday morning. He pointed out that 4,000 of the added jobs came from the hard-hit construction industry.

"Massachusetts is on the mend and on the move," Patrick said.

The strong job gains suggest economic recovery is well underway in Massachusetts. But more than 19,000 jobs in one month is such a big number, it seems too good to be true to some economists.

"Nineteen-thousand job growth in one month is an astounding figure," said Alan Clayton-Matthews, who tracks the Massachusetts economy at Northeastern University. "It's hard to believe that 19,000 is a real number that will hold up."

Clayton-Matthews pointed out that the employment report is a survey, and that the surprising figure is more likely the result of a statistical abnormality and may have to be revised.

Even so, Clayton-Matthews thinks that between 5,000 and 10,000 of those added jobs are real job growth. And that's still a very positive number.

Yet there's still a long way to go. A group of regional economists, the New England Economic Partnership, estimates that the region won't return to pre-recession job levels until 2013. Still, Massachusetts leads the region in the jobs recovery.

In Massachusetts, larger companies seem to have the resources to hire — and they're moving forward. But small businesses still can’t get the credit they want. Many of them use their owner’s homes or property as collateral for business loans, and those values are down.

"Businesses generally are still cautious," said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s "They went through a lot. They're not going to forget it. So it's going to take time before they get those 'animal spirits' back and really are in full swing."

Zandi said Congress could help the situation. He said the unresolved issues in Washington, D.C. — health care reform, immigration reform, financial regulations, expiring tax cuts — are adding uncertainty and slowing employment growth.

Employers just don’t know what they’re going to be dealing with, Zandi said, and that makes it harder to pull the trigger and hire.

This program aired on May 20, 2010.

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



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