Unemployment rises as state sits on ARPA funds

Massachusetts

BOSTON (SHNS/WWLP) – The statewide unemployment rate rose from 5 percent to 5.2 percent in September, while employers reported adding 11,900 jobs across Massachusetts last month, labor officials announced on Friday.

September’s unemployment rate was the highest in Massachusetts since the 6.4 percent reported in April, and it landed more than 3 percentage points below the 8.9 percent labor officials recorded a year ago. Job growth rebounded somewhat from the revised figure of 3,400 positions reported in August, though the pace of growth remains middling.

Since May 2020, Massachusetts has added 474,700 jobs, clawing back 72 percent of the losses experienced in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Governor Baker’s vaccine mandate went into effect at the beginning of October so some people blame the mandate for people walking off the job. Baker denied those claims earlier this and noted that 90% of executive branch employees have disclosed their vaccine status.

“When we started this process, we were probably somewhere in the 60s or 70s so the fact that today we’re at 95% attestations, I feel pretty good about,” Baker said.

The largest industry-specific gains in September occurred in education and health services (6,400 jobs), other services (5,300), trade, transportation and utilities (3,900) and leisure and hospitality (3,300). Construction, professional and business services, and government all shed positions last month.

Gov. Charlie Baker has been pushing lawmakers to invest a substantial portion of state government’s $4.8 billion in remaining American Rescue Plan Act funding toward workforce training and other economic development initiatives. Legislative leaders are still working on an ARPA spending bill, which is expected in the new few weeks, and have also yet to produce a plan to allocate $1.5 billion in unobligated tax revenues left over from fiscal 2021.

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