Massachusetts' jobless rate dropped to 6.8 percent in December, down from 7 percent in November, according to figures released by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Thursday.
That's the state's lowest unemployment level since December 2008.
But at the same time, labor officials also say the state lost 6,200 jobs last month. The unemployment rate and jobs figures come from separate surveys.
"My guess is [the jobs figures] will go up when it's revised on a monthly basis," said Gov. Deval Patrick. "Right now, I'm focused on the rate, and that's really good news, and I'm also focused on the fact that we have more to do."
The scientific and business services sector lost the most jobs in December, while trade, transportation and utilities posted the biggest gains.
State Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein says she expects the job market will continue to improve.
"By conversations with employers, individual claimants and just a sense of where the unemployment market is at, you certainly do feel like we're headed in the right direction," Goldstein said.
For the year, the state gained more than 40,000 jobs.
The national unemployment rate is 8.5 percent.
With your mouse, hover over the charts for specific monthly data.
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[asset title="Mass. Unemployment Rate In 2011, By Month"]2012/wbur_0120_unemployment/2.html[/asset]
This article was originally published on January 19, 2012.
This program aired on January 19, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.