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September 17, 2021

Mass. unemployment rises for the first time since pandemic's initial month

Photo | Grant Welker Diners at Rail Trail Flatbread Co. in Hudson.

Massachusetts’ unemployment rate increased to 5% in August, a 0.1 percentage point jump marking the first uptick in state unemployment since the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic began to be left in the state, according to Friday’s report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

State unemployment first hit 5% in May before holding at 4.9% during the last two months. 

The rise from 4.9% to 5.0% in August is the first time the unemployment rate rose since April 2020, when the rate jumped from 2.7% in March 2020 to 16.4% in April, which was an all-time high for the state. The rate fell steadily over the past 16 months before ticking up again in August.

About 5,000 more workers were unemployed in August than in July, as now 185,417 are unemployed in the state.

August’s rate is a 4.3-percentage-point drop from the same month last year, when it was 9.3%.

Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is 0.2 percentage points lower than the national average. 

Massachusetts still saw a relatively large growth in employment from August 2020, with more than 3.5 million workers and a 5.6-percent-change increase in employment from last year.

The civilian labor force -- which includes both employed and unemployed workers -- grew by about 8,000 from July, a 95,000 year-over-year increase. 

Over the last year, employment has grown 5.6%, which is 2.2-percentage-points lower than the 12-month percentage change in July.

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