SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

December 27, 2012

Region sees big gains in jobs

Growth driven by added positions in education and health services

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — Several North Shore cities and towns tracked by the state saw hefty gains in jobs year over year, according to the latest job and unemployment estimates for November.

Statewide, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate fell 0.1 percent from October to 6.1 percent, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said yesterday. Year over year, the statewide unadjusted rate is down from 6.4 percent in November 2011. This unadjusted rate reflects seasonal changes in unemployment, such as the hiring of workers to staff stores during the holiday season. The adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in November.

The Peabody area was among those that saw the largest percentage increases in year-over-year job gains, according to the state.

Total nonfarm jobs in the area grew 2.7 percent in the past 13 months, from 102,200 jobs in November 2011 to 105,000 last month, said Will Sinatra, the data analyst for the Salem-based North Shore Workforce Investment Board, the organization that oversees the region’s career centers.

“Adding jobs is a good thing,” Sinatra said.

The labor force has also increased, he said, meaning the growth in jobs is able to absorb those who may have been out of work but who are now actively looking for a job.

“It shows that the economy is slowly improving, it means the economy can accommodate people returning to the labor force,” Sinatra said. “That’s a pretty sustainable growth.”

The Peabody area had nearly 130,000 people in the labor force in November 2011. Last month, that number had risen to more than 131,200, though that number was off from October’s labor force of nearly 132,500.

The Peabody area that the state looks at encompasses Danvers, Lynn, Marblehead, Nahant, Peabody, Salem and Swampscott. The area’s unemployment rate stood at 6.1 percent in November, down from 6.3 percent last year.

The area’s job growth is being driven by gains in education and health services, which added 1,500 jobs year over year, an increase of 6.8 percent. That’s 22,200 health and education jobs in November 2011 and 23,700 last month. The retail sector added 400 jobs from last November to this November, for a total of 16,500 jobs. The financial activities sector, hard-hit by the recession and the consolidation of bank branches, added 100 jobs, or 2 percent, year over year. It was off 100 jobs from October, however.

“We consider financial services to be very critical to the North Shore,” Sinatra said, because of its high wages and its ability to provide funding to other employment sectors.

Sinatra noted, however, that the number of jobs in the Peabody area is down 500 from October to November, in part because of a decline in tourism.

Leisure and hospitality chalked up a 400-job increase year-over-year, from 10,400 in November 2011 to 10,800 last month. However, the sector is down 600 jobs, or 5.3 percent, from October. Sinatra, who works in downtown Salem, chalked that up to fewer people visiting the region after the Halloween tourism season ends.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.