September Unemployment Rate Continues to Decline Despite Continued Economic Uncertainty

On October 16th, the Commonwealth released the revised seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August 2020 and the rate for September 2020. At 11.4 and 9.6 percent respectively, these rates continue to exceed the current rate for the nation at 7.9 percent. Revised estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that Massachusetts added 62,500 jobs in August. Massachusetts added 36,900 in September. The labor force participation rate, 66.9 percent, is down one percentage points from September 2019. You may recall last month, we noted a significant decline in labor force participation. These kind of dramatic month-to-month shifts should be taken with a “grain of salt.” The surveys that these data are based on do a good job measuring the employment situation in general but, in extremely unusual times like these they do not always mirror what we see with our own eyes. When that is the case, it is best to trust on the ground experience and look at multiple data points. 

The editors and economists of MassBenchmarks released Notes from the Board on 10.13.2020 which offers more analysis about the current state of the labor market. In addition, today they released their bulletin, noting economic growth over the past quarter. While it shows historically high growth over the past quarter compared to the extreme decline in the second quarter, due in large part to the infusion of federal money into the state and the easing of pandemic-related work restrictions, the authors note that the fourth quarter is expected to show a sharp slow down to this growth. 

Last week, the local area unemployment rates were released, showing variation across the state, with 53 cities and towns exceeding the state non-seasonally adjusted rate to a high of 20.2 percent in the City of Lawrence. Springfield and Revere follow with the next highest rates, 16.2 and 16.1 percent. See below for links to the latest available data and tools for analysis. The Boston Indicators project just released a demographic profile of the unemployed in Massachusetts. Click here to read more.

Unemployment Rates and Labor Force Participation

Claims Data

Labor Market Information and Data Visualization Tools

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