Breaking News on unemployment in Massachusetts

Red “BREAKING NEWS” banner on Boston.com earlier this morning, linked to an ‘article’ that is essentially an uncritical summary of this release from the Patrick/Murray Administration’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.  The first paragraph of said release tells the whole story:


The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported today that

the September total unemployment rate decreased from 7.4 percent in

August to 7.3 percent, remaining  well below the national rate of 9.1 percent, and the state’s lowest monthly rate since January of 2009.  Preliminary September job estimates show a decrease of 2,300 jobs for a total of 3,231,700 jobs in Massachusetts.

The Boston.com  headline tells only half the story – as it happens the half that the Administration wants told.

“Mass. Unemployment rate drops to 7.3 percent”.  That sounds like great news, no?  And nobody can blame the Patrick/Murray Administration for playing it up (never mind that monthly jobs figures are always always always significantly revised based on subsequent, better data, rendering a 0.10 shift essentially meaningless).  One might expect just a tiny bit of critical analysis from the press, however.  Ha.  Just kidding.

Here, such analysis would not have to proceed beyond that first paragraph excerpted above to suss out the downside of today’s announcement.  The unemployment rate is down… but so are total jobs.  All of these numbers are moving targets, and the unemployment rate and total jobs figures are determined separately, based on different analyses.  So it’s an inexact science.  But with only the information provided it is a fair assumption that our unemployment rate is dropping in part because our state continues to lose jobs… READ THE REST at CriticalMASS

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