GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 26, 2013

City jobless rate falls, but still above '12's

By Times Staff
Gloucester Daily Times

---- — The heart of summer tourism and other seasonal employment opportunities drove down Gloucester’s and other Cape Ann towns’ unemployment rates for July, the state’s latest statistics show.

But Gloucester’s July jobless rate of 7.4 percent remained higher than the state’s overall average of 7.2 percent, and a full 11 percent higher than the 6.7 percent figure the city had posted for the same month a year earlier in July 2012.

The latest unemployment statistics from the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development noted that Gloucester’s 7.4 percent unemployment rate for July is down from a June jobless rate of 7.7 percent. And, for the first time since September of last year, the city’s rate fell below the overall Essex County unemployment rate of 7.5 — a mark fueled by the city of Lawrence’s 14.8 percent mark.

Yet, while Gloucester’s hard numbers show that 1,173 people in the city’s workforce were out of work in July, also down from a June figure of 1,214, the new figure is 12.8 percent higher than the 1,040 Gloucester workers who were without jobs in July 2012.

Cape Ann’s towns also showed drops in their unemployment rates from June to July:

Rockport’s July unemployment rate checked in at 6.3 percent, down from a June mark of 7.1, but — like Gloucester — up significantly from a 5.2 mark in July 2012.

Essex posted a jobless rate of 5.6 for July of this year, down from a June figure of 6.1 percent and also down from the town’s July 2012 rate of 5.8 percent.

Manchester’s rate for July of this year was pegged at 4.9 percent, according to the state figures, down from 5.8 percent in June, and down from a mark of 5.1 percent in July 2012. The new rate, in fact, marks the first time Manchester’s rate has dipped below the 5 percent mark since the summer of 2011.

The state’s Labor and Workforce Development reports — issued each month for the state, for each of its counties, and for all of its cities and towns — are based upon federal Labor Department figures that are able to track only the number of people who are unemployed within the context of the documented work force.

Because of that, many state and national analysts have often raised concerns that a drop in workforce figures signals that, while far more people remain unemployed, many have fallen off the unemployment benefit rolls and are therefore no longer statistically tracked.

For July, however, Gloucester showed an increase in its labor force from 15,841 in June to 15,959 in July, with 14,786 people working compared to 14,627 in June.

The most positive jump in hard numbers, however, came in Rockport, where – despite just seven people being added to the work force — which rose from 3,833 to 3,840 — the number of people working jumped by 39, from 3,560 to 3,599, while the number of those without jobs fell from 273 in June to 241 in July.

Combined figures show that, overall, 1,659 workers were unemployed across Cape Ann in July, compared to 1,586 documented as being without jobs in July 2012.