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Unemployment Ticks Down in Massachusetts in January

BOSTON — The state’s total unemployment rate for January was down 0.6 percentage points at 7.8%, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary job estimates indicate Massachusetts gained 35,500 jobs in January. This follows last month’s revised loss of 8,700 jobs. Over the month, the private sector added 26,300 jobs as gains occurred across all sectors, led by education and health services and professional, scientific, and business services.

From January 2020 to January 2021, BLS estimates Massachusetts lost 334,200 jobs. Losses occurred in each of the private sectors with the exception of mining and logging, with the largest-percentage losses in leisure and hospitality, with 32.8% of jobs lost; other services, with 18.7% of jobs lost; and education and health services, with 8.7% of jobs lost.

The January unemployment rate was 1.5 percentage points higher than the national rate of 6.3% reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The labor force increased by 3,600 from 3,753,100 in December, as 23,300 more residents were employed and 19,700 fewer residents were unemployed over the month.

Over the year, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was up by five percentage points.

The state’s labor-force participation rate — the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks — remained unchanged at 66.5%. Compared to January 2020, the labor force participation rate is down one-tenth of a percentage point.

Annual year-end revisions show the unemployment rates were lower than the previously published estimates for May 2020 through September 2020. After the revisions, the highest unemployment rate during the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in April 2020 at 16.4%, which was 1.3 percentage points lower than the previously published highest rate of 17.7% in June 2020.

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