Council In the News Index
More Finding Jobs in Massachusetts (Lowell Sun)
By Matt Murphy
August unemployment falls below 9 percent for first time in a year
By Matt Murphymmurphy@lowellsun.com
BOSTON — The unemployment rate in Massachusetts dipped below 9 percent in August for the first time in a year, giving Gov. Deval Patrick an opening to boast while his opponents charged that the recovery has not been fast enough.
The new jobs data released by state officials yesterday shows that unemployment dropped from 9 percent in July to 8.8 percent in August, driven by private-sector growth totaling 4,000 new jobs.
Overall, the state added 2,100 new jobs.“With seven straight months of job growth and the unemployment rate dropping, Massachusetts continues to move forward, and that’s no accident,” Patrick said in a statement. “By focusing on our strengths, we’ve created nearly 65,000 jobs since December, are top tier in the nation for job growth and are on track to emerge from this recession faster and stronger than other states.”
Republican Charlie Baker countered Patrick by arguing now is not the time to be celebrating modest job gains when hundreds of thousands of people are still out of work.
“We have to get serious about cutting taxes if we want businesses in Massachusetts to start rehiring the more than 300,000 people who are out of work today,” Baker said. “This isn’t the time for a victory lap. Governor Patrick continues to miss the larger picture here. Massachusetts is the fifth most-expensive state in which to do business and it’s the policies of the past four years that have gotten us there.”
Baker has vowed to cut the corporate tax rate to 5 percent in his first term. His campaign yesterday cited a new survey from the Massachusetts High Technology Council and the Pioneer Institute that found 56 percent of Bay State business owners rate the tax climate “less positive” than other states.
Patrick has touted the creation of more than 60,000 new jobs in his first television advertisement of the campaign, and has consistently argued that Massachusetts is emerging from the recession faster and stronger than most other states.
Massachusetts has stayed below the national 9.6 percent unemployment rate and is ranked third in terms of job growth in the nation.
The last time the unemployment rate was under 9 percent was in August 2009 when it also stood at 8.8 percent. Unemployment peaked in January and February of this year when 9.5 percent of the state’s workers were out of a job.
Patrick has blamed the overall loss of jobs in the state on the global economic collapse, arguing that his administration’s investments in education and life science have helped blunt the impact of the recession.
“I know there is more to do, more people who need work. So, for them, we will keep fighting,” Patrick said.
Since December, the state has added 64,300 jobs. The most recent private-sector growth came in leisure and hospitality, the professional, scientific and business services sectors and construction, which added 1,600 jobs in August.
Financial services gained 1,100 jobs and education and health services added 800 jobs.
Manufacturing, however, declined last month, shedding 1,600 jobs, while the trade, transportation and utility sectors lost 1,200 jobs.
The government sector lost 1,900 jobs, a reduction that state officials continue to attribute to the loss of temporary Census workers.
Treasurer Tim Cahill, who is running for governor as an independent, questioned whether Patrick has done enough to put people back to work quickly.
“I’m pleased to see job numbers headed in the right direction, however, we are crawling when we need to be sprinting,” Cahill said in a statement. “Middle-class families cannot wait any longer for relief. The governor was handed a casino bill that would have tripled today’s job numbers, and he turned his back on the thousands of men and women out of work for political reasons.”