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Unemployment's Massachusetts Roots19:54

This article is more than 9 years old.

New unemployment figures for August reveal that nearly one in 10 U.S. job-seekers can't find work. On this Labor Day, we trace the history of modern-day unemployment back to its Massachusetts beginnings.

Historian Alex Keyssar says the focus on the unemployed really began not with the Great Depression, but with a different economic crisis. The financial panic of 1873 had led to the widespread belief that a quarter-million people were jobless in Massachusetts. Incredulous of that figure, the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics and Labor went on the hunt for a better — more politically tolerable — figure.


Dan Mauzy Twitter Managing Editor, Newsroom
Dan Mauzy is a managing editor in WBUR's newsroom.


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