Dec. 15, 2011
BOSTON — The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in November — the lowest figure for the state in three full years.
Better yet, state Secretary of Labor Joanne Goldstein thought the improvement was solid, not seasonal.
“Anything is possible but we don’t think so,” she told WGBH News’ Jordan Weinstein. “We feel like the jobs we have growing are largely sustainable jobs that can provide a living.”
Though two recent studies found a growing income divide in the state, with fewer people in the middle class, Goldstein saw evidence to the contrary. “The average wage of Massachusetts is significant and above a number of other states, which would suggest that we do have sustainable jobs for the middle-class here,” she said.
The biggest gain in employment was in the leisure/hospitality sector — which includes jobs in food service, hotels, arts, entertainment and recreation.
It could be that ”people [are] using more discretionary income to do things like eat out, go to the arts, go to a move, in numbers that they had not necessarily previously,” Goldstein said — necessitating more people to serve them.
Goldstein did not, however, have Bureau of Labor Statistics figures on the number of people who have left the workforce entirely. Those people are not counted in the unemployment rate.
STUDIES SEE GROWING INEQUALITY