In first quarter 2014, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are springing forward with lower unemployment rates. For Massachusetts, the unemployment rate has declined from 6.8% in January to 6.3% in March, three straight month-over-month declines. Because the national unemployment rate increased slightly in the first quarter of the year, Massachusetts dropped below the national unemployment average of 6.7% for the past two months.For its smaller neighbor, the drop was bigger but the unemployment rate remains in the dismal range. The unemployment rate in Rhode Island dropped from 10.4% in January to 9.1%.
The April results promise to be better, based on the first nationwide statistics. According to Matt Philips of Quartz, “The US is just 120,000 jobs away from recovering all losses from the Great Recession.” (While welcome news, a full recovery would include comparable jobs and would accommodate US population growth since 2007.)
As for unemployment, the national unemployment rate dropped from 6.7% in March to 6.3% in April. However, according to MR Philips, that “improvement” was accomplished by a reduction in the pool of workers.
“The US labor force shrank by 806,000 in April, and that sharp decline was responsible for the lion’s share of the improvement in the unemployment rate.”
To paraphrase Alexander Pope, hope springs eternal in the human breast, especially in the breasts of unemployment watchers.