November 14, 2010 by staff
Mass Unemployment, (AP) – News that the Massachusetts unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in 16 months in September, even though the state’s economy shed nearly 21,000 jobs, quickly became a point of contention in the race for governor.
The unemployment rate’s decline to 8.4 percent last month from 8.8 percent in August was the steepest month-to-month decline since 1976, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
The national rate for the month was 9.6 percent.
The new numbers were touted by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick as proof that the state’s economy is recovering, even as he acknowledged the drop in jobs.
“I’m not sure what to make of that mixed message, but I think the unemployment rate is good news by any measure,” Patrick told reporters in Newton. “We continue to make progress. We have more to do, but we are clearly on the right track.”
Republican challenger Charles Baker quickly pounced on the loss of nearly 21,000 jobs, following the loss of 3,000 jobs the previous month.
“Governor Patrick makes a lot of claims, but as these job figures today show, he has no real plans to grow jobs and turn the state’s economy around,” Baker said in a statement.
Patrick dismissed Baker’s criticism saying he’s doing everything to help the state climb out of a hole created by a worldwide economic collapse.
“Charlie will be Charlie. And every accomplishment that is not his is something that he finds very difficult to value,” Patrick said.
Asked if he plans to change his political ads that tout seven months of job growth, Patrick said the campaign is “going to sort that out.”
Independent candidate Timothy Cahill said “the governor’s tax and spend policies have been a jobs killer.”
“As governor, I will push for immediate tax relief and an economic plan to support job growth for small businesses,” Cahill said.
More than half of the jobs lost were in the lodging and food service sectors, probably “a normal seasonal adjustment” at the end of the summer tourist season, department Secretary Joanne Goldstein said.
Many of the jobs lost were likely filled by people with other work, or by students who have returned to college or high school, Goldstein said, explaining how the unemployment rate can decline while the state is losing jobs.
“Withholding tax revenues are up for September and Massachusetts continues to grow jobs at a rate of 1.2 percent, significantly better than the national average,” she said. “We think all of these indicators are confirmation that the Massachusetts economy is growing.”
The financial services sector, including insurance and real estate, showed the strongest gains from August to September, with about 1,300 new jobs.
The information sector added 500 jobs, while the professional, scientific and business services sector added about 400, and is now up nearly 14,000 jobs from the same month last year.
Education and health services lost about 5,800 jobs, but is up by 10,700 positions in the past year, while construction shed about 1,600 jobs, even though the total number of construction jobs in the past year is up by 2,100.
The agency said about 3,185,000 Massachusetts residents were employed and 292,300 were unemployed in September. The unemployed seeking work is the lowest since May 2009.
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