Thursday, June 18, 2015

Southbridge Unemployment Rate Ranks 15th Out Of 351

Ken O’Brien

Of the 351 cities and towns reporting, Southbridge, with an unemployment rate of 6.5%, was tied with Hinsdale for the 15th highest unemployment rate in Massachusetts for the month of April. Of course Southbridge has a labor force almost eight times the size of Hinsdale's.

Eight other communities with higher rates were either resort communities on Cape Cod or of inconsequential size. Five are dramatically larger than Southbridge. Only North Adams, with a rate of  6.6%, is comparable to our town.

If there was any good news to be found in this fact it was that from March of 2015 the rate of unemployment in Southbridge declined by 1.3 percentage points. However, this was accompained by a 1.4% decline in the available labor force. On balance, Southbridge remained firmly ensconced in the top 5 percent of pockets of unemployment in the state.

Southbridge Unemployment
Month
Year
Labor Force
Employed
Unemployed
Area Rate
Massachusetts Rate
April
2015
8,198
7,667
531
6.5
4.1
March
2015
8,312
7,660
652
7.8
5
February
2015
8,310
7,611
699
8.4
5.4
January
2015
8,170
7,481
689
8.4
5.6
December
2014
8,173
7,528
645
7.9
4.9
November
2014
8,156
7,520
636
7.8
5
October
2014
8,102
7,487
615
7.6
5
September
2014
8,070
7,382
688
8.5
5.7
August
2014
8,132
7,430
702
8.6
5.7
July
2014
8,110
7,371
739
9.1
6
June
2014
8,148
7,404
744
9.1
6
May
2014
8,012
7,322
690
8.6
5.6
April
2014
8,035
7,323
712
8.9
5.5

Massachusetts' unemployment rate dipped for the eighth straight month in May, reaching its lowest point — 4.6 percent — since December 2007.

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) reported Thursday it was also the ninth consecutive month of job gains in the state. The new preliminary job estimates for May from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show a gain of 7,400 positions.

May's unemployment rate declined by 0.1 percentage points from April's rate of 4.7 percent. The May rate also represents a drop of 1.2 percentage points from May 2014's jobless rate of 5.8 percent.

The state's unemployment rate is now almost a percentage point lower than the national rate of 5.5 percent.

"We have had solid job growth in the last three months, with approximately 30,000 jobs added in the state," Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker II said in a statement. "As more jobs are created, more people are coming back into the labor market."

Of the 7,400 jobs added in May, 7,100 were in the private sector. Construction added 3,500 jobs, and retail trade and wholesale trade each added 1,500. The manufacturing sector gained 600 positions and financial activities gained 700, while transportation and warehousing lost 500 jobs, the EOLWD said.

In another positive development, the EOLWD reported that the state's labor participation rate – the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks – ticked up 0.1 percentage point to 66.4.

The BLS also upwardly revised its April jobs figure, reporting the state gained 11,200 jobs, instead of the 10,100 the agency reported last month.

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts peaked in September 2009 at 8.8 percent.

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