Mass. February jobless rate stays at 6.9 percent
BOSTON—The Massachusetts unemployment rate held steady at 6.9 percent in February, while the state added more than 9,000 new jobs during the month, according to the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
The figures released Thursday follow recent downward revisions in estimated employment growth in 2011 that has prompted critics to question job creation claims made by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick's administration.
The office also revised January jobs figures to show the state picked up 13,900 jobs in that month, rather than the 6,600 total that was previously announced. As a result, officials now say the state has gained 23,000 jobs since the beginning of 2012.
The monthly jobs figures are based on a sample survey of employers. The unemployment rate, which is based on a separate, monthly survey of households in Massachusetts, remained at 6.9 percent for the third consecutive month, well below the February U.S. unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.
The state revealed earlier this month that based on revised figures from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts gained only 9,100 jobs between December 2010 and December 2011, well below previous estimates by the state that more than 40,000 new jobs were created last year.
The federal statistics, which are calculated by a different method, could be revised again as more data comes in.
MassBenchmarks, a collaboration of the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said Wednesday it was lowering its estimate of overall state economic growth in 2011 to 1.8 percent, down from 2.9 percent, citing the revised jobs numbers.
Patrick administration officials say they believe the state gained more jobs last year than the latest figures indicate, but state House Minority Leader Brad Jones and other Republicans have accused the administration of painting too rosy a picture of the state's economic recovery.