BOSTON (SHNS) – The state’s unemployment rate dropped into single digits in September after spending five months above 10 percent, as employers reported adding 36,900 jobs and Massachusetts continued its economic recovery from the sudden COVID-inflicted recession.
State labor officials announced Friday that the unemployment rate declined to 9.6 percent in September, 1.8 percentage points below the revised August rate of 11.4 percent.
The state unemployment rate is now the lowest it has been since March, the last month of data that did not fully reflect the massive layoffs prompted by government-mandated shutdowns and large-scale shifts in consumer behavior to avoid public health risks.
The previously reported U.S. unemployment rate checked in at 7.9 percent in September.
While still substantial, the pace of job growth slowed in September with 36,900 jobs added last month, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data based on a survey of employers, comparing to the addition of 62,500 jobs in August.
The employer survey put September’s total employment in Massachusetts at about 3.34 million. While businesses have reported five straight months of increasing jobs, the roughly 320,000 positions added since April represent slightly less than half of the 690,000 lost in March and April.
The largest job gains in September came in education and health services, which added 11,100 positions, and the leisure and hospitality industry, which added 10,800. Leisure and hospitality has faced the steepest cuts of the 10 categories counted: since September 2019, the industry has lost more than a third of its jobs.
Governments in Massachusetts shed 12,300 jobs in September, according to the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Weekly unemployment claims have fluctuated in recent months after sharply spiking during the spring, but those figures also remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels.
In the week ending Oct. 10, 39,038 people filed claims for traditional unemployment benefits — about 10,000 more than the previous week — while another 11,478 filed claims for the expanded eligibility Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, according to the Baker administration.
Announcement of the continued overall employment gains came two days after Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled a new $45.5 billion fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, a plan that uses reserves and federal funds to increase spending even though state tax revenues are forecast to fall about $3.6 billion below earlier expectations.
Lawmakers could still push to scale back public services or impose additional governmental layoffs to rein in spending amid that tax shortfall, but the Baker administration believes its plan will avoid cuts by deploying a combination of federal funds and long-term savings.
Federal negotiations about another round of stimulus that could help mitigate the economic damage remain rocky.