The long and slow return of the mass labor market

Corn data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers some encouragement. Job growth continues to rebound, albeit at a modest pace, after the summer decline caused by the Delta variant. More and more people are joining the labor market. The labor shortage persists but is easing.

Massachusetts employers created 25,000 jobs in October, nearly double the gain of the preceding month. Monthly employment growth has averaged nearly 19,000 this year.

Some 5,600 people entered the labor market last month. This is less than in September, but the number of people with a job or looking for a job is the highest since May.

Rising ranks of job seekers pushed the unemployment rate up to 5.3% from 5.2%. in September. This increase should eventually be reversed if employers extend their hiring period.

Nationally, the economy created 531,000 jobs in October, the Ministry of Labor said earlier this month, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent. The wage bill surge beat economists’ forecasts and was the biggest increase since July, when nearly 1.1 million jobs were created before Delta wreaked havoc.

There are several reasons for the state’s underperformance in employment.

Massachusetts was hit harder than most states at the start of the crisis, leading to a relatively tighter shutdown and larger layoffs. The state has been slower than most to reopen. And our mix of jobs – with above-average reliance on industries like restaurants, travel, education and healthcare – held us back, even with one of the highest vaccination rates in the country. .

It has been 18 months since the labor market hit rock bottom. Here’s where the state stands compared to February 2020 and how we stack up against the rest of the country.

And here’s what happened to jobs in key sectors of Massachusetts’ economy.

It is possible that the recent increase in COVID cases will slow job growth in the cold months to come, but we are unlikely to see a return of the same type of severe social distancing restrictions currently imposed. in parts of Europe.

Yet at last month’s growth rate, it will take another eight months or so for Massachusetts to catch up with the last 190,000 jobs that disappeared in March and April 2020.

It’s a sobering statistic.

Larry Edelman can be reached at Follow him on twitter @GlobeNewsEd.

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