Is employment growth in Massachusetts limited to the Boston area?
Not according to regional data from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Over the period October 2013 – October 2014, employment in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased a bit less than the statewide figure (3.9 percent versus 4.0 percent), and the unemployment rate declined a hair less (25 percent versus 26 percent) as well.
Job growth in the state’s other seven MSAs ranged from 3.4 percent in Fall River to 4.7 percent in the Worcester area; the highest rates were in the two largest areas, Worcester and Springfield (4.4 percent). Unemployment rate declines ranged from 23 percent in Springfield to 29 percent in Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner. Barnstable, New Bedford, and Pittsfield fell in the middle on both measures, close to Boston and to the state averages.
The Boston MSA, covering eastern Massachusetts except for the south coast, Cape and islands, accounts for 74 percent of the state’s employment. Trends within that MSA are generally similar to those prevailing statewide, although the Lawrence-Chelmsford division recorded a lower rate of job growth (2.9 percent) and higher unemployment (8 percent, down from 11 percent last year.)
These regional figures, by the way, are prepared using a different methodology than the more widely noted state employment and unemployment reports. They show a seasonally unadjusted state unemployment rate for October of 5.1 percent, compared to the adjusted rate of 6.0 percent; and net annual job growth of 130,000 rather than 52,600.
If Greater Boston, by size alone, is the economic locomotive of the commonwealth, we can say that at this point it is pulling the train rather than pulling away. We are seeing job creation from Cape Cod to the Berkshires, and unemployment rates approaching (what we think of as) normal in most regions.