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Mass. unemployment rises as state sits on federal pandemic relief funds

The statewide unemployment rate rose from 5% to 5.2% in September, while employers reported adding 11,900 jobs across Massachusetts last month, labor officials announced on Friday.

September's unemployment rate was the highest in Massachusetts since the 6.4% reported in April, and it landed more than 3 percentage points below the 8.9% labor officials recorded a year ago.

Job growth rebounded somewhat from the revised figure of 3,400 positions reported in August, though the pace of growth remains middling. Since May 2020, Massachusetts has added 474,700 jobs, clawing back 72% of the losses experienced in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The largest industry-specific gains in September occurred in:

  • Education and health services (6,400 jobs)
  • Other services (5,300)
  • Trade, transportation and utilities (3,900)
  • Leisure and hospitality (3,300)

Construction, professional and business services, and government all shed positions last month.

Gov. Charlie Baker has been pushing lawmakers to invest a substantial portion of state government's $4.8 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan Act funding toward workforce training and other economic development initiatives.

Legislative leaders are still working on an ARPA spending bill, which is expected in the new few weeks, and have also yet to produce a plan to allocate $1.5 billion in unobligated tax revenues left over from fiscal 2021.

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