Mass. Loses 4,800 Jobs In August; Jobless Rate Climbs To 6.3 Percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate edged up two-tenths of a point in August while preliminary figures showed the state losing about 4,800 jobs during the month, the office of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday.

The jobless rate stood at 6.3 percent in August, up from 6.1 percent in July. The rate is down from 7.4 percent a year ago and Massachusetts remained below the August national average of 8.1 percent.

In addition to the preliminary job losses for August, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics also revised downward job gains in the state for the previous month. The new figures show an increase of 300 jobs in July, compared to an earlier preliminary estimate of 1,600 jobs gained during the month.

To WBUR, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth economist Michael Goodman urged caution about reading too much into a single month's numbers.

"These ways of estimating employment and unemployment at the state level on a monthly basis are notoriously volatile and really prone to error," Goodman said.

State officials said Massachusetts has still picked up 31,400 jobs since the beginning of the year, including slightly less than 30,000 private sector jobs.

In August, however, most sectors of the economy shed jobs, including education and health services; professional, scientific and business services; leisure and hospitality; and construction.

"It's the blue-collar sectors that have been consistently lagging and continuing to lose jobs," Goodman said. "I think constriction stands out in particular."

Manufacturing jobs remained unchanged during the month, while a slight gain in jobs was recorded in the financial activities sector. State government also added 2,500 jobs while local government lost 400 jobs.

Overall, there were just below 3.23 million Massachusetts residents employed in August, while 218,800 were unemployed.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on September 20, 2012.

This program aired on September 20, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.


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