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For now, state’s job picture still brighter than nation’s

By Megan Woolhouse
Globe Staff / July 22, 2011

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Despite virtually no job growth nationally last month, the Massachusetts economy continued its recovery last month, adding more than 10,000 jobs across several industries, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported yesterday.

The state’s unemployment rate was unchanged from May, holding at 7.6 percent last month, while the national unemployment rate rose slightly to 9.2 percent in June. Massachusetts employers added jobs across a broad array of sectors, from manufacturing and construction, to professional, scientific and technical services occupations, education, and health care.

Michael D. Goodman, chairman of the public policy department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth described the state report as encouraging, especially in light of dismal national job growth in June, and concerns about a looming economic crisis should Congress fail to raise the federal debt ceiling and the nation default on its debt.

Goodman said credit rating agencies are already considering downgrading US credit because of the prospect of default, which could mean higher interest rates for car, home, business and other loans.

The state employment report “provides a reason for some cautious optimism,’’ Goodman said. “But there are all these unresolved issues nationally and internationally that are weighing heavily on the outlook.’’

Massachusetts’ strong technology industry and many health care and educational institutions helped the state weather the recession better than many other parts of the country, and helped the state recover faster than the nation as a whole. During the past year, the state has added 50,000 jobs.

Goodman said he was unsure how long Massachusetts could outpace the national economy, because the two are closely linked. Among the concerns: When national and global economies, slow, he said, it affects sales of technology and other products that Massachusetts companies sell in national and international markets.

Manufacturing led job gains in June, adding 2,900 jobs, according to the state employment report. Construction added 2,500 jobs, professional, scientific and business services 2,300 jobs, and leisure and hospitality 1,400 jobs.

The financial services sector gained 1,200 jobs; about 900 of the jobs in finance and insurance industries, about 300 jobs in real estate businesses.

Among the sectors that lost jobs were: retail, which shed 400; other services, including personal and repair services, which also lost 400; and information, which lost 200 jobs - the first such monthly loss since September 2010.

Another disappointment in the report was a decline in the labor force, a sign that workers are still finding jobs hard to get and giving up job searches. Only workers who actively search for work are counted as unemployed, which probably helped the state jobless rate remain flat. The state labor force decreased by 9,400 to 3.5 million.

About 263,800 Massachusetts residents were unemployed in June, state officials said, down from nearly 295,000 a year ago.

Andre Mayer, senior vice president for research at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, said he was not discouraged that the unemployment rate remained flat in June because of the strong job gains among employers. Since April, the state has added some 26,000 jobs, he said.

“What we have this month is good news,’’ he said. “Despite the fact that unemployment didn’t change.’’

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at mwoolhouse@globe.com

Areas of job growth in Massachusetts

Areas of job growth in Massachusetts
As employers added 10,400 jobs in the state, here's a look at some of the areas of job growth.