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Dr. Mike Goodman on jobless rise numbers in Greater Springfield

Greater Springfield’s employment rate rose to from 8.4 percent from 8.1 percent in April, even with the addition of 3,200 new jobs. The new jobs likely represent springtime seasonal hiring in the retail, recreation, and construction industries. Michael D. Goodman, director of the UMass Donahue Institute’s Economic and Public Policy Research, said there are statistical reasons why the number of jobs and the unemployment rate could both go up at the same time. However, the real world explanation might be that the economy is starting to turn a corner.

“If the labor market is improving, that attracts more people who have dropped out of the work force,” Goodman said. “People who have stopped looking start looking again.”

Alone, the city of Springfield had an unemployment rate of 10.9 percent compared to 10.6 in April and 6.9 percent last year. Amherst and the surrounding towns had an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, lowest in the state, but up from 3.0 percent in April and 3.4 percent last year. The Greenfield area had an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, compared to April’s 7.4 percent and last year’s 4.7 percent.

Goodman said there have been positive signs in the economy recently, like a freeing of the credit markets and an improving stock market.

“It does not mean the difficult times are behind us, but the worst might be behind us,” he said. It will still take months for the job picture to improve. Federal statistics show that Americans with jobs are working fewer hours said Goodman.

“Those people will have those hours restored before we see more hiring,” Goodman said.

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