Mass. Unemployment Rate Drops Below 5 Percent

The Massachusetts unemployment rate is under 5 percent for the first time since early 2008, the state labor department reported Thursday.

The rate dropped 0.2 percentage points, from 5.1 percent in January to 4.9 percent last month. February's state mark is better than the national jobless rate of 5.5 percent.

The unemployment rate, based on a survey of households, counts those who are in the labor force — working or actively looking. So the rate can dip if jobseekers become discouraged and exit the labor force.

But the Massachusetts labor force increased by 16,600 in February, the labor department said, a good sign for the state economy.

In percentage terms, the labor participation rate ticked up 0.3 percentage points in February, to 65.9 percent, the state labor department said.

Less positive was that Massachusetts added just 800 jobs last month, according to preliminary estimates out Thursday, and the private sector actually lost an estimated 800 jobs in February.

Though last month was robust for hiring on the national level, bad weather conditions here may have affected state jobs figures.

Thursday's report also revised down January's jobs gain, from an initially estimated 2,600 to 900.

The jobs figures are based on a survey of employers.

Both the jobs numbers and the unemployment rate are subject to revision.

With additional reporting by The Associated Press

This article was originally published on March 19, 2015.


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



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