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March 12, 2021

Mass. unemployment rate improved to 7.8% in January

Photo | Grant Welker The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic

The Massachusetts unemployment rate improved to 7.8% in January despite the state reaching all-time highs in coronavirus cases over the month, according to new data released Friday.

The state gained 35,500 jobs in January and its unemployment rate improved by 0.6 percentage points, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. That's a sharp reversal from December, when the unemployment rate ticked upwards and 8,700 jobs were eliminated.

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts was 1.5 percentage points higher than the national average in January of 6.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some of the state's hardest-hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic saw improvements in employment in January, including education and health services, whose job count grew by 10,000, or 1.4%, according to the state. Leisure and hospitality, which has been crushed by the pandemic, grew by 1,900 jobs, or 0.7%, and construction added 1,800 jobs for a 1.1% improvement. Manufacturing, which has been relatively durable during the pandemic, lost 600 jobs, or 0.3%.

The state's job market remains far behind where it was last January just before the pandemic hit, when the unemployment rate was 2.8%. The state is still 334,200 jobs behind where it was a year prior, with the biggest losses in leisure and hospitality, which is down one-third.

January unemployment figures for the Worcester metro area are slated to be released March 19. The Worcester area's unemployment rate in December was 6.9%, up from 6.2% a month prior.

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