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Massachusetts added 8,700 jobs in March, and the state's unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent, according to the latest employment report from labor officials.
So far in 2012, Massachusetts has added 29,800 net jobs, including a gain of more than 31,000 private-sector positions, according to today's report. That includes an addition of 7,200 jobs in February — a figure revised down from the initial estimate.
The state's unemployment rate dropped from 6.9 percent in February. The national jobless rate is currently 8.2 percent.
The professional, scientific and business services sector led Massachusetts' private-sector gains last month with an addition of 4,900 jobs. Two other private sectors — trade, transportation and utilities, and education and health services — also added more than 2,000 jobs each.
The construction, leisure and hospitality, and financial activities sectors each lost a few hundred jobs in March. The government sector lost 200 jobs.
Update at 11:30 a.m: WBUR's Curt Nickisch spoke with UMass-Dartmouth economist Michael Goodman, who stressed that these numbers are preliminary, but said, "When you see the labor force growing and jobs being created, even if we be can’t be certain of precisely how many are being created, the trend is in a positive direction."
Update at 3 p.m.: Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, Massachusetts Labor Secretary Joanne Goldstein told our Newscast unit that her office's work is not done.
"We are working with businesses and individuals that are unemployed to try to create matches so that people can go back to work and businesses can be fully staffed," she said.
This program aired on April 19, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.
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