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Mass. Adds 10,900 Jobs In December; Unemployment Rate Down To 5.5 Percent

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Massachusetts added a robust 10,900 jobs last month, and its unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 5.5 percent, according to preliminary federal estimates released by the state labor department on Thursday.

Massachusetts added an estimated 60,900 jobs last year. That's the state's strongest year for job growth since 2000, when 95,500 jobs were added, the labor department told WBUR.

Nationally, 2014 was the strongest year for job growth since 1999. (The national and state figures are raw calculations and not adjusted for population size.)

Seven out of 10 sectors in the Massachusetts economy added jobs last month, led by the leisure and hospitality sector, with 4,700 positions gained. The financial activities, manufacturing and information sectors lost jobs, though none more than 800.

One negative note for jobs: Thursday's report revised down the jobs gained in November, from 13,500 to a still-impressive 11,700.

And Ron Walker, the state's new labor secretary, told our Newscast Unit that there is still work to be done for people living in so-called Gateway Cities.

"There are still close to 195,000 people who don't have jobs, and most are in the Gateway Cities," Walker said. "We are working on an agenda to grow employment and workforce training opportunities."

Per Thursday's report, the state's labor force increased by 2,800, as 15,800 more residents were employed and 13,000 fewer residents were unemployed over the month.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points, from 5.8 percent to 5.5 percent. It's again below the national rate, which is 5.6 percent.

The state unemployment rate bounced up and down over 2014, but has dropped from 7.1 percent in December 2013.

The jobs figures and the unemployment rate are based on separate surveys — one of employers, the other of households — and both are subject to revision.

Benjamin Swasey Twitter Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.

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