By Joseph R. Laplante
Standard-Times Staff Writer
NEW BEDFORD — Unemployment dropped across the state in March, including Greater New Bedford, which improved by almost 2 percentage points, the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development reported Tuesday.
The drop in unemployment in the New Bedford labor market lifted the city and its environs from the bottom of joblessness up one spot, above Lawrence, the agency reported.
New Bedford’s unemployment rate in March was 7.3 percent, down from 9.2 percent in February. The March number is also an improvement over the March 2006 unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
The Lawrence-Methuen-Salem area reported the worst unemployment rate in Massachusetts in March at 7.4 percent, which was a drop from 8.4 percent in February and down from 7.9 percent in March, 2006.
The most encouraging news for Greater New Bedford was the addition of 700 new jobs in March, said Linnea Walsh, spokeswoman for the agency.
“The largest number was 300 new jobs in leisure and hospitality,” Ms. Walsh said. “Trade, transportation and utilities saw gains as well. New jobs were also reported in the professional, scientific and business services area as well as in education and health.”
The news is good elsewhere. The commonwealth added 15,100 new jobs during the first quarter of 2007, the agency said, with strong job gains in the same areas as New Bedford: educational and health services, as well as in professional, scientific and business services and trade, transportation and utilities.
At 3,273,100 in March, jobs were up by 37,100 or 1.1 percent from one year ago and are up by 94,200 since December 2003, according to the agency.
At 4.4 percent, the Massachusetts unemployment rate is down nearly a full percentage point from 5.3 percent in February, and is at its lowest rate since October 2001. This rate is also down from the 4.8 percent recorded one year ago.
The national unemployment rate was also at 4.4 percent in March, edging down from 4.5 percent in February. One year ago the national rate was 4.7 percent.
Contact Joseph R. LaPlante at firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: April 25, 2007