GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 31, 2012

City jobless rate hits 7.8%

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Gloucester’s latest unemployment rate leapt upward by some 9 percent in November, rising to 7.8 percent for the 30-day period even as the state’s jobless rate and a key North Shore regional indicator shows signs of improvement.

According to the latest city and town figures from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the city’s jobless rate jumped from an October mark of 7.1 percent to the new figure. The 7.8 percent marks the city’s highest unemployment rate since March and sits less than a percentage point below the 8.2 percent rate the city racked up for November 2011.

While some of the city’s latest jobless increase is tied to seasonal changes in the local economy, the latest statistics show that the jump also comes as Gloucester’s labor force continues to grow. The 15,824 people recognized as being in the Gloucester workforce in November is up from the October mark of 15,727 and from the November 2011 figure of 15,670.

Yet that growth corresponds to a drop from statistics showing that 14,583 were employed in November, down from an Octobner figure of 14,618. The latest figures, however, are up by 201 from the 14,382 who held jobs in November 2011, according to the state numbers.

Gloucester’s jobless statistics come amid a mixed bag of November unemployment data for Cape Ann’s towns:

Rockport’s jobless rate jumped by more than 27 percent, from an October mark of 5.7 mark to a November figure of 7.2, according to the state workplace numbers. That figure is also higher than the town’s November 2011 rate of 6.8 percent.

Manchester’s November unemployment rate fell from 5.4 percent in October to a November rate of 5.0, though that town’s jobless rate is also up from its Novembe 2011 figure of 4.6 percent.

Essex however, also saw its jobless rate rise from 5.3 percent in October to a November rate of 5.4 – a mark still below its November 2011 rate of 5.56 percent.

All of Cape Ann’s communities except Gloucester fell below the statewide November unemployment rate of 6.1 percent — a mark that as down from a 6.2 mark in October and improved from a revised figure of 6.4 percent in November 2011.

Meanwhile, regional labor and workforce data from the what the state’s office defines as the Peabody area — one of eight defined economic regions —show gains in total “nonfarm” jobs of 2.7 percent in the past 13 months, from 102,200 jobs in November 2011 to 105,000 last month, said Will Sinatra, the data analyst for the Salem-based North Shore Workforce Investment Board, the organization that oversees the region’s career centers.

The defined “Peabody area” includes Danvers, Lynn, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. That region’s unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent in November, down from 6.3 percent from November 2011.

The Workforce Investment Board data shows that area’s job growth is being driven by gains in education and health services, which added 1,500 jobs year over year, an increase of 6.8 percent. That’s 22,200 health and education jobs in November 2011 and 23,700 last month.

The retail sector, meanwhile, added 400 jobs from last November to this November, for a total of 16,500 jobs.

The financial activities sector, hard-hit by the recession and the consolidation of bank branches, added 100 jobs, or 2 percent, year over year.

Five-year tracking figures compiled by the nonprofit North Shore Workforce Investment Board showed that, between 2007 and 2011, the number of retail jobs grew in the city by almost 30 percent; an average of 1,592 people worked in Gloucester retail stores in 2011, while accommodations and food service jobs rose by 20 percent over the last five years, adding 214 jobs.

But those same investment board figures showed that, while an average 2,800 people worked in Gloucester manufacturing companies in 2007, that average had fallen to 2,350 — a 15 percent decrease – by the end of 2011.

New Gloucester figures from that panel have not yet been released.