No doubt Deval Patrick will be talking up the jobs numbers on the campaign trail this week. The Massachusetts unemployment rate for March dropped slightly from 9.3% to 9.2 percent. I am not sure exactly how many people that put back to work, but not enough to give anyone a sense of economic confidence except for Deval Patrick. Preliminary estimates suggest that the month of April may be even better.
Here is the problem – this is late May and those numbers are now almost two months old. And if we have learned one thing about jobs gained and lost is that there is no consistency in this volatile market. Earlier today, reports out of Washington suggest that just last week the number of new unemployment filings rose unexpectedly by the largest number in three months. Approximately 471,000 people lost their jobs last week, which is almost 30,000 more than was expected. ‘Experts’ thought unemployment filings for last week might actually drop by 4,000 claims. Oops!
Back here in Massachusetts the unemployment rate is still 1.2% higher than it was a year ago at this time. Among the industries to lose jobs in the Bay State were leisure and hospitality. Not a good sign going into the summer season when so many people are earning their wages on hotels, restaurants, drinking establishments and all those other pesky leisure and hospitality type places. In other words, employers are expecting a dismal vacation and tourist season…..
Not so pessimistic are the ‘experts’ at the New England Economic Partnership semi annual conference in Boston. They forecast that Massachusetts will pick up 200,000 jobs over the next 5 years. Though the Boston Globe article didn’t mention a single industry which was forecast to gain any of those jobs the overall feeling is hopeful. The same article predicts that there will be a rebound in home sales as well. With all the good and baseless predictions coming from the conference I almost expected them to predict that I would lose 25 pounds, grow my hair back and hit the lottery. Oh well!
Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for our esteemed Governor to be hitting the bricks with all the good economic news. Maybe he should share the good employment news with the unemployed folks from Evergreen Solar, Pfizer and Wyeth – if they are still in Massachusetts!