Over The Last Year, Mass. Metro Areas Had The Nation's Biggest Declines In Unemployment

The Massachusetts unemployment rate is 2.9 percent, and it fell significantly — a full 2 percentage points — from November 2015 to now. That we've reported before.

Some new federal data compiled Wednesday puts the year-over-year drop in national context, which is even more striking.

Of the seven U.S. metro areas that had a jobless rate decrease of greater than 2 percentage points over the year, five were in Massachusetts.

(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

That includes the New Bedford region, which saw its unemployment rate fall 2.8 percentage points — top in the country, and ahead of the hard-hit El Centro, California (-2.7), and Yuma, Arizona (-2.6).

Years into the nation's economic recovery, both El Centro and Yuma still have very high jobless rates of 20.3 percent and 16.7 percent, respectively. The New Bedford area, by contrast, is at 3.7 percent.

Two other metros in Massachusetts also had big declines in their unemployment rates. The Worcester area's fell 1.9 percentage point from November 2015 to November 2016, to 2.8 percent. And the Boston region — a wide swath that extends into southern New Hampshire — saw its rate fall 1.7 percentage point, to an overall jobless rate of 2.4 percent.

So, unemployment rates fell significantly across the state last year, from the coast to the Pittsfield region in western Massachusetts.

You can see the movement in the Massachusetts rates represented on this map (interactive version here):

(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
(Courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

OK, now a couple of caveats.

Though the state's unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, a broader measure, that includes those who are working part time but would like a full-time job, remains elevated. And the ratio of those employed to the overall working-age population in Massachusetts remains relatively depressed.

This unemployment data is also subject to revision.

Correction: An earlier version of this post used a map from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that had an error in its description. 

This article was originally published on January 04, 2017.


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



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