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March 8, 2013

Mass. job rate holds despite jobs gain

BOSTON — While there was no improvement in the joblessness rate in January, Massachusetts added 32,100 more jobs than previously estimated for 2011 and 2012, according to revised figures released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At 6.7 percent, the January unemployment rate did not budge from the December 2012 rate.

Massachusetts employers added an estimated 16,100 jobs in January, according to figures released by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. According to the revisions, employers in Massachusetts added 92,800 jobs over the course of 2011 and 2012.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics annually compiles year-end revisions of previous job growth and unemployment estimates. The revisions are based on actual data collected from employers through September 2012, with numbers for the last quarter still based on projections, according to state labor and workforce development officials.

Job growth revisions by the federal government last year caused a stir when the numbers showed the state added far fewer jobs than originally reported. In March 2012, the BLS issued revised jobs numbers that showed Massachusetts added nearly 30,000 fewer jobs in 2011 than previously reported. Patrick administration officials questioned the accuracy of those numbers, while political opponents pounced.

The newest federal figures provide a complete picture for 2011, while 2012 could be adjusted again when the last quarter is finalized, according to Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Joanne Goldstein. The numbers show a steady recovery with more continuous job growth, she said, adding the Patrick administration is “very pleased.”

“This is real people having real jobs, which is critical,” she said.

Goldstein said the unchanged unemployment rate indicates the economy still has challenges, but pointed out it is below the 7.9 percent national rate.

“The rate is 6.7, and it is something we watch, and are working on, but we don’t think it is a negative reflection of the state of the Massachusetts economy,” she said.

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