Jobless rates dropping all over MA

Of 10 metro areas in US with biggest declines, 7 from Bay State

NEW ECONOMIC DATA suggest the state’s labor market is nearing full capacity, which is translating into employment gains across the state and not just in metropolitan Boston.

A group of Massachusetts economists released a MassBenchmarks report on Wednesday suggesting tight labor market conditions are likely to lead to worker shortages in some occupations and high wage rates for jobs in skilled manufacturing and construction.

Unemployment-rate-fallsThe report said the unemployment rates of the state’s Gateway Cities, while down, remain “stubbornly above” the unemployment rate in the Boston area. But the economists’ report was based on a discussion they held on Dec. 9, and since then new numbers have come out suggesting that many areas of the state are seeing a dramatic reduction in their unemployment rates.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, N.H., metropolitan area had an unemployment rate in November of 2.4 percent, which tied for the lowest rate among areas with a population of 1 million or more. Boston’s unemployment rate was 1.7 percentage points lower than it was a year ago.

But the good news extended well beyond Boston. Six other metro areas in the state reported even bigger unemployment rate drops over the last year; indeed, Massachusetts communities held seven of the top 10 spots, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

New Bedford led the nation, with its unemployment rate falling 2.8 percentage points from 6.5 percent in November 2015 to 3.7 percent in November 2016. It was the second time New Bedford’s falling unemployment rate led the nation; the first came in May 2014, when the rate hit 7.6 percent, down from 10.4 percent the year before.

The other areas of the state reporting big drops in the unemployment rate were Barnstable, Leominster-Gardner, Pittsfield, Springfield, and Worcester. The November unemployment rates of those five metro areas ranged from a low of 2.8 percent in Worcester to a high of 3.1 percent in Springfield and Barnstable.

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Bruce Mohl

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