After two straight months of positive, four-year lows, Gloucester’s local unemployment rate inched back upward in July, according to the state’s latest figures and amid other troubling statistics spotlighting the city’s economy.
According to localized figures released last week by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Management, Gloucester’s jobless rate, initially reported at a four-year low of 6 percent for June, rose to a July rate of 6.2 percent from what is now being reported as a revised June figure of 6.1.
The July rate means the city remains far better off than a year ago from an economic labor standpoint; the 6.2 percent figure is 18 percent below Gloucester’s July 2011 jobless rate of 7.6 percent, and the city’s rate is lower than both the statewide July unemployment rate of 6.6 percent and the overall Essex County rate of 6.8 percent.
But while the increase is minimal, the state’s latest report for individual cities and towns rekindles questions that have been raised for much of this year regarding the city’s documented work force. And the 1-percentage-point increase marks the first upward turn for Gloucester’s jobless rate since a seasonally predictable jump from 8.6 to 10.1 percent between last December and January.
According to the new state numbers, the increase in Gloucester’s unemployment rate came as the number of the city’s jobless rose slightly from 946 in June to 965 in July, and the number of people employed dipped from a June mark of 14,671 to 14,554.
But the number of people listed in the city’s overall workforce also fell by nearly 100 from a 2012 high of 15,617 in June to 15,519 in July — at a time when Gloucester’s and Cape Ann’s workforce is traditionally at or near its peak, with seasonal businesses in high gear, college students still home for the summer and new graduates having just joined the work force.
Massachusetts’ monthly Labor and Workforce Development reports — whether for the state, counties or individual cities and towns — measure the number of unemployed in the context of the recognized work force, and therefore does not account for those who have lost their jobs and have seen their unemployment eligibility expire. And analysts across 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 accounting for 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, but the city’s recognized workforce for July remains some 5 percent – or more than 900 workers — below the figure of 16,429 listed for July 2010.
Gloucester is not the only Cape Ann community that saw its unemployment rate rise between June and July,The rate for Essex was also up, according to the state report, from 5.1 percent in June to 5.4 percent in July, though still well below the county and state rates and a full 28 percent below the own’s jobless rate of 7.4 percent posted in July 2011.
Both Rockport and Manchester posted identical month-to-month improvements, lowering their unemployment rates from revised June figures of 4.9 percent to marks of 4.8 percent in July.
Manchester’s rate had also been listed at 4.9 percent in July 2011, while Rockport’s newest figure marks an improvement of 26 percent from its July 2011 jobless rate of 6.6 percent.