Latest job and unemployment estimates

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development this week reported that the March 2012 seasonally unadjusted unemployment rates were down in all 22 labor areas.   The labor force, unemployment rates and jobs estimates, for Massachusetts and for every other state, are based on statistical methodologies specified by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Statewide, the March seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, down 1.1 percentage points from 7.5 percent in February.  Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate was down 1.4 percentage points from the March 2011 unadjusted rate of 7.8 percent.  All twenty-two labor area rates were down over the year.

According to state data, there is a workforce of 219,757 people in Hampden County, of which  17,972 are unemployed. That is an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent. The state website reports a 6.9 percent unemployment rate for the state last month, with an 8.2 percent national rate. Western Massachusetts is on track with the country, but has a higher rate than the rest of the state.

In Westfield, there is a labor force of 21,013 workers, of which 19,592 are employed and 1,421 are unemployed.  Southwick’s labor force is 5,130, with 4,723 employed and 407 unemployed. Granville has a workforce of 883, with 816 employed and 67 unemployed. In Russell, of the 996 people in the workforce, 910 are employed and 56 are unemployed. Tolland has a workforce of 257, of which 250 are employed and seven are unemployed.

In March 2012, over the month job gains occurred in all 12 areas for which estimates are published.  The largest gains occurred in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Worcester, Springfield, Barnstable, and Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton areas.  The Barnstable area had the largest over the month rate of job growth with 1.5 percent, followed by the Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton and Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury areas.

Over the year, job gains were realized in nine of the 12 areas with the largest gains in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Barnstable, Framingham, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, and Peabody areas.  The largest percentage gains occurred in the Barnstable, Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, and Peabody areas.

The seasonally adjusted statewide March unemployment rate, released on April 19, was 6.5 percent, a drop of 0.4 of a percentage point from February, and was down 1.0 percentage point from the 7.5 percent rate recorded in March 2011.  The statewide seasonally adjusted jobs estimate showed an 8,700 job gain over the month.

For those seeking jobs, there are career centers throughout Massachusetts, including Future Works in Springfield, BerkshireWorks in Pittsfield, and CareerPoint in Holyoke.

Tom Thacher of CareerPoint said their site has received 14,000 visits from over 3,000 people seeking help over the past five years.  Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee and Westfield are the top four communities where CareerPoint attracts its customers.

Thacher said CareerPoint is not an employment agency and does not help people obtain jobs, it offers them assistance in finding job openings via websites and postings sent directly to CareerPoint.

“Our main thing is that you don’t come to CareerPoint to find a job opening, but so you can learn how to write the strongest resume you can, so then that resume lands you an interview, and to also strengthen the way you present yourself in an interview so that you are the one who gets the job offer,” said Thacher.

For more information on employment services available in western Massachusetts, visit

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