Mass. unemployment rate at lowest point since 2001

The Boston Globe | By Deirdre Fernandes
September 15, 2016

With the state’s economic engine firing on nearly all cylinders, the jobless rate fell last month to its lowest level in 15 years.

Unemployment in Massachusetts eased to 3.9 percent in August from 4.1 percent the prior month, the state reported on Thursday. Employers added 5,900 jobs last month, primarily in leisure and hospitality, education, and health care. Since the start of the year, most industries have added workers or kept their payrolls stable.

The last time the state’s jobless rate was that low was in August 2001, just before the terrorist attacks, and it dipped as low as 2.6 percent during the dot-com boom of 2000.

“Wow. It’s unequivocally a positive job report,” said Mike Goodman, a public policy professor who studies the state’s economy at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

“I would be most concerned about the most rapidly growing employers in the most rapidly growing areas of the state being able to staff,” he added.

Companies are holding on tightly to the workers they have, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economics professor at Northeastern University. The number of Massachusetts residents filing for unemployment assistance dropped to 24,000 in July, the lowest it had been since October 2000, he said.

Employers have shifted strategies in how they hire, not just in the high-demand technology sector, but even for more entry level and middle-income jobs in finance and health care, recruiters said. They are more willing to bet on candidates who don’t have all of the skills they need and train them — a strategy unheard of just a few years ago, when workers were plentiful and companies could be picky.

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