The city of Gloucester’s unemployment rate improved for the second straight month in March, but remains higher than the rate for the same month of a year ago, and is still 40 higher than the statewide rate, which remained steady.
The March figures released by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development have pegged Gloucester with an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, down from the February rate of 9.9 percent but still running higher than the 9.3 percent rate the city recorded in March 2012. The rate is also significantly above the statewide March jobless rate of 6.8 percent, the same rate listed for February, and down slightly from the state’s March 2012 unemployment percentage of 6.9.
The city’s unemployment rate paralleled the course of jobless rates in Cape Ann’s three towns, with only Essex showing an increase in its jobless rate from 6.4 percent in February to 6.7 percent in March. The Essex March rate, however, also marks a 9 percent improvement from the town’s March 2012 jobless figure of 7.4 percent.
In the other towns:
Rockport posted a March unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, down from the 8.4 percent mark in February, yet, like Gloucester, up from a March 2012 rate of up 7.8 percent.
Manchester, now the only Cape Ann community with a jobless rate lower than the state’s, recorded a March unemployment figure of 5.6 percent, down from the town’s 6.3 percent rate in February, and from the 6.1 percent rate posted in March 2012.
While Gloucester’s hard numbers back up the rate change, showing an increase in the number of people working and a drop in the actual numbers of those unemployed, the latest state figures also show a decline in the city’s work force for the second straight month — a factor that has been touted by analysts as an economic red flag suggesting a drop in unemployment is not what it seems.