At this halfway point in 2016, we took a look at key data points from the second quarter. We found:
- The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in both April and May, the lowest it’s been in 15 years.
- Labor force participation rate in Massachusetts — defined as “the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks” remained at 65 percent.
- The Massachusetts U-6 unemployment number, which counts those working part-time who would rather work full-time and those who have stopped looking for jobs, is 9.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- The national unemployment rate remained below 5 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2008.
- However, the pace of adding jobs to the economy has definitely slowed. The BLS announced that only 38,000 jobs were added to the national economy in May, compared with the more than 200,000 jobs that had been added on average each month since January 2013. (Some special factors, such as the Verizon strike, account for some of those jobs.)
- In its latest Beige Book report (based on readings from the 12 Fed regional banks that were collected before May 23), the Federal Reserve reported that while employment grew only modestly since its last report, “tight labor markets were widely reported” in most areas and that employers across the country were having a harder time finding workers to fill jobs. Wages were up modestly, especially in areas where workers were in high demand.
- Massachusetts’ economy is the fourth best in the country, according to a recent report from WalletHub. The report uses data from 2013 until 2016 to compare states across three key metrics that include economic activity, economic health and innovation potential. Massachusetts ranked first among states with the largest percentage of fast-growing firms and the percentage of jobs in the high-tech industries. Massachusetts was 19th on the list of states with the lowest unemployment rate (4.4 percent) and ranked 15th in the nation in terms of GDP growth (2.3 percent).