Labor outlook; Massachusetts still running ahead of US.
Last Thursday's report from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development showed a slight increase in unemployment in the state, which edged upward from 6 percent in June to 6.1 percent in July. That uptick is in step with a slight increase in the nation's overall unemployment rate, as the Bay State continues to mimic movements in the national economy.
The good news, of course, is that the unemployment rate in Massachusetts continues to run two full percentage points below the national average, as it has done throughout the national recession and the painfully slow recovery.
Looking more deeply, however, one can find areas of concern. Employment is uniform across the state, but follows concentrations of industry, finance and education. The city of Cambridge, for example, has a very low rate of 4.2 percent -- essentially full employment -- and the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy statistical area is at 5.8 percent, very close to the natural rate of unemployment, that is, the rate that can be expected from the usual movement of workers in and among industries as jobs are created and destroyed.
Moving west, the Worcester market stands at about 7 percent -- not quite on a par with Boston, but ahead of the rest of the nation. The Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner area was at 8.5 percent unemployment in June, a bit worse that the national average and significantly behind the state average, but still ahead of economically struggling areas such as the city of Springfield, where the rate is 10.3 percent.
Beyond the numbers, it's important to keep an eye on the bigger picture. The state's economy will always be tied to the health of the national and world economies. Beacon Hill lawmakers did pretty well with this year's budget, but unless leaders in Washington and throughout Europe can get a handle on rising deficits and curb exploding entitlements, the long-term fiscal outlook for Massachusetts will remain cloudy.
But job seekers here should not give up hope. Massachusetts has a highly diversified economy, with abundant opportunities for those willing to take advantage of education and training. And the state's social safety net, for all the talk of needed reforms, remains strong and generous to those who are in transition from one job or career to the next.
Looking for work is itself a full-time job, but it's one made easier if seekers identify those sectors that are growing more quickly, such as education, health services, science and business, and look for ways to plug in. Not everyone can be a technology expert, lawyer or consultant, but as industries grow, they create jobs at all levels of companies and organizations.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Aug 19, 2012|
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