GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 30, 2013

City shows drop in rate of jobless

Gloucester’s recognized unemployment rate for the month of August fell below the state’s average jobless rate for the first time in a year, new state statistics show.

But the city’s positive drop — from a July rate of 7.3 percent to an August mark of 6.7 — came through declines in all three of the report’s columns: in the number of workers unemployed, in the city’s documented workforce and in the number of those working.

And Gloucester’s rate remained higher than the 6.4 percent who were listed as unemployed in August 2012, continuing a trend of four straight months in which the city’s rate has lagged behind the figures for the previous year.

The workforce figures raise what have long been red flags of regional and national workforce analysts, who note that the system of documenting jobless rates across the state and the nation fail to indicate people who are out of work but have used up their unemployment benefits and, therefore, do not even show up as part of the documented workforce.

Gloucester’s hard numbers for August show that 1,057 local workers were unemployed, an improvement of roughly 9 percent from the 1,166 who were listed as being on the unemployment lines in July.

But the same statistics also show an unexplained decline in the city’s labor force, from 15,956 in July to 15,825 in August, with a slight drop in the number of employed workers also, from 14,790 to 14,768.

The new unemployment statistics were released Friday by the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and show improvement from July to August for all four of Cape Ann’s communities as the summer seasonal business and tourism season wound down toward Labor Day. The figures also show all four Cape Ann communities below the state’s August jobless rate, which fell from a July mark of 7.2 percent to August’s 6.8.

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