Local unemployment dips for fifth straight month

By Brian Boyd
The New Bedford area’s jobless rate fell from 12.6 percent in May to 12.1 percent in June, according to the latest local data from the state.
The jobless rate fell even as the size of the area’s labor force grew. The ranks of workers, both employed and unemployed, grew by 212 people, while the number of employed workers jumped by 603, according to data released Tuesday by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
The labor force can grow or shrink for a variety reasons, including people deciding whether or not they are likely to be successful if they seek a job, said Jon Bryan, a professor of management at Bridgewater State College’s School of Business.
“If they feel a reasonable likelihood that a job search will produce a good job for them, some people will return to the labor market,” Bryan said.
The work force could also grow as people move into the area but, either way, it’s an encouraging sign, he said.
Nevertheless, the numbers remain high despite efforts by the federal government to stimulate the economy, he said.
The area’s rate has fallen for five straight months. The numbers are not adjusted to reflect seasonal fluctuations in employment, though, and last month’s number was higher than June 2009, when it was 11.2 percent.
The unemployment rate in the city fell from 15.3 percent in May to 14.4 percent in June. While its labor force shrank by 88 people, the city had a net increase of 202 in the number of residents employed last month compared to May, according to the data.
Bryan said instead of the current approach to stimulus, the government should provide more tax incentives to small businesses, which are crucial to job creation. Banks are being very cautious in lending to small businesses right now, complicating matters, he said.
“Many small businesses are unable to obtain credit,” he said. “If they can’t obtain credit, they can’t create jobs. The banking system has been very slow in improving the lending for small businesses.”
July 21, 2010
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