Unemployment Continues to Drop for Cape & Islands, Across State

unemploymentHYANNIS – The unemployment rate continues to drop on the Cape and the Islands and across the state.

The Massachusetts Executive office of Labor and Workforce Development Department of Unemployment Assistance has released unemployment figures for March.

In Barnstable County, the unemployment rate last month was down to 7.5 percent, compared to 8.6 percent in March of 2015. The rate is also down 0.4 percent from February.

Executive Director of the Cape & Islands Workforce Investment Board David Augustinho said the March report had even better news for the region.

“The size of the labor force is up,” he said. “It’s up about a little over 1,000 people from February and almost 2,000 people over March of 2015.”

Augustinho said we are now in a time of labor shortage and employers are having trouble finding workers.

“And that’s across the board, not just our hospitality or seasonal businesses but businesses across the board are having trouble finding people,” he said. “Now at least there are more people saying they are looking for work so hopefully that will help alleviate out employers issues a little bit.”

Augustinho believes the rebounding construction industry is driving the rate down on Cape Cod.

“Construction was the last industry to come back,” he said. “You had to wait for the whole housing situation to shake out and you also have to wait for people’s confidence to return before the housing market is really going to take off.”

The statewide unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in March which was down from 4.7 percent in February and 5.2 percent in March of 2015.

“We used to consider anything under 5 percent was full employment,” he said. “And that is bad news for employers because that means that everybody who wants to work is essentially working and it’s really hard to fill any open positions.”

The unemployment rate for Bristol County was 6.1 percent in March which was down 1 percent from a year ago and 0.2 percent from February.

Plymouth County’s unemployment rate is close to the state average at 4.9 percent compared to 5.6 percent last March.

Unemployment is under 10 percent on the Islands. Dukes County unemployment is down to 9.5 percent. The rate was 11 percent in March of 2015 and 10.1 percent in February. The rate on Nantucket is 9.8 percent compared to 11.2 percent last month and in March of 2015.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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