July jobless rate stays at 4.9 percent

Boston Statehouse

FILE – This May 7, 2020, file photo shows a man wearing a mask while walking under a Now Hiring sign at a CVS Pharmacy during the coronavirus outbreak in San Francisco. On Thursday, Nov. 12, the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 709,000, the fourth straight drop and a sign that the job market is slowly healing. The figures coincide with a sharp resurgence in confirmed viral infections to an all-time high above 120,000 a day. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Massachusetts employers added jobs at a robust pace in July, while the statewide unemployment rate held flat at 4.9 percent for the second month in a row, labor officials announced Friday.

Based on a survey of employers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the state added 43,400 jobs in July to push total employment above 3.5 million for the first time since the pandemic hit. That one-month increase was the highest since August 2020, surpassing the 37,900 positions added in January.

The largest growth came in the leisure and hospitality industry, which gained 19,400 jobs over the month, and in government, which added 12,700 jobs.

A separate BLS survey of households used to calculate the labor force and unemployment rate found little change from June to July. The unemployment rate in Massachusetts remained at 4.9 percent in July, 0.5 percentage points below the national unemployment rate.

The labor force grew by 4,900, and the labor force participation rate — which represents residents 16 or older who worked or actively sought work in the last four weeks — ticked upward by one-tenth of a percentage point to 65.6 percent. The state’s employment outlook has improved substantially since the early days of the pandemic, when the unemployment rate rose as high as 16.4 percent in April 2020, though businesses overall have only clawed back a bit more than two-thirds of the jobs lost in the early days of the crisis.

Gov. Charlie Baker has been pressing lawmakers to spend some of the state’s American Rescue Plan Act windfall on apprenticeship and job training programs, particularly with enhanced unemployment benefits scheduled to expire the week of Sept. 4 for 330,000 Bay Staters who remain out of work.

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