GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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December 26, 2012

Job figures raise new red flags

Wire and Staff Reports

Despite losing 1,100 jobs, the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in November at 6.6 percent.

Approximately 230,200 Massachusetts residents were unemployed in November – up slightly from October. Massachusetts employers have added 46,600 jobs since November 2011, the state reported. And according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, November’s job losses follow a gain of 11,900 jobs during October – 4,000 more than originally reported, according to the Executive Officer of Labor and Workforce Development.

But those figures did nothing to revise Gloucester’s October unemployment rate of 7.1 percent — the third straight month of increase in the city’s jobless rate figures, according the labor and workforce development figures. And while the October figures for Manchester and Essex also remained the same — at 5.3 and 4.3, respectively — Rockport’s revised October unemployment rate was boosted to 5.7 percent, compared to an initially reported rate of 4.8.

November unemployent rates for counties and indivudual cities and towns across the state are due from the Office of Labor and Workforce Development at the endo of this week.

The state’s 6.6 percent November jobless rate remains below the state’s 7 percnet figure posted in November 2011, just as Gloucester and other Cape Ann figures have – even as the city’s rate rose month to month in September and October — remained below the figures from comparable months of a year ago. Massachusetts’ statewide unemployment rate peaked at 8.7 percent in October 2009, and dipped to a recent low of 6 percent in May and June 2012; Gloucester’s jobless rate hit a four-year-low of 6.0 percent in August.

Yet the latest statewide labor and workforce development figures parallel localized statistics from the North Shore Workforce Investment Board (WIB) that show that the city’s economy has reached employment levels of where it was in 2007, before the worst of the recession. In the years following, Gloucester shed higher-paying manufacturing jobs and lower-paying retail and food service work filled the gap.

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