GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

October 9, 2012

Jobless rate for city dips to 6.1%

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — Gloucester’s unemployment rate, holding steady throughout the summer above the 6-percent mark, inched back down to 6.1 percent in August from a 6.2-percent figure in July, according to the latest city and town jobless statistics from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

And the tenth-of-a-point decrease this time comes with supporting figures showing that more people landed local jobs in August amid a growing summer workforce — with 250 more people working in August of this year, than had been in August 2011, when the city’s jobless rate was pegged at 7.4 percent.

The Gloucester jobless rate, while the highest among the four communities on Cape Ann, remains below the state average of 6.4 percent for a second straight month, and also stays below the Essex County average, which held firm for a second straight month at 6.8 percent – fueled largely by a 14.8 percent unemployment rate in the city of Lawrence.

The August unemployment rates for Cape Ann’s towns were:

Essex — 4.6 percent, down by 16 percent from the town’s July rate of 5.5 percent, and a whopping 27 percent improvement from the 6.3 percent reported in August 2011,

Rockport — 4.3 percent, down from a July mark of 4.8 percent and down from a 5.9 percent figure posted in August 2011.

Manchester — 4.8 percent, consistent with the same 4.8 percent listed for July, and up from an August 2011 rate of 4.6 percent. Manchester’s monthly unemployment rate has held at between 4.6 and 4.9 percent since this past March, when it was pegged at 5.7 percent.

The Gloucester figures come after the rate from June to July – a rising peak of the tourism season – had risen from an initially reported 6.0 percent to 6.2. The state’s Labor and Workforce Development office later revised the June figure to 6.1 percent. All of the figures are reported without being seasonally adjusted. The August city and town statistics are the most recent numbers available, and generally come a few weeks behind the statewide jobless statistics.

While posting the drop in the unemployment rate, the figures for Gloucester also reported that 14,598 were working in August, up slightly from 14,549 who were working in July, while the number of people documented as unemployed fell from 963 to 941.

Those figures came as the city’s documented labor force also rose from 15,512 to 15,539, turning around a trend that had raised some economic red flags as recently as July, when — with students back from school and new graduates having theoretically entered the work force — the city’s labor force still purportedly dropped by more than 100 from a June mark of 15,617.

Because Massachusetts’ monthly Labor and Workforce Development reports — whether for the state, counties or individual cities and towns — measure the number of unemployed within the context of the recognized work force, there is no accounting for those who have lost their jobs and have seen their unemployment eligibility expire. And analysts throughout the state and the nation have raised concerns that declines in overall workforce figures spotlights a gap in the reporting system that has no means of documenting people who are, in fact, still jobless, but who have fallen off the unemployment rolls and are no longer tracked statistically.

The number of people in Gloucester’s documented workforce had declined for three straight months before predictably rising from May to June as more seasonal businesses stepped up operations and the summer tourism season took hold. Yet, even with the increase this time from July to August, the latest state figures still show that the city’s recognized workforce remains some 5 percent – or nearly 900 workers — below the figure of 16,429 listed for July 2010.

Among other nearby cities, Lynn’s August unemployment rate is listed at 7.6 percent, while Salem’s is pegged at 5.9 percent, Peabody’s at 5.8 percent and Beverly’s at 5.2 percent.