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March 18. 2014 7:14PM

NH jobless rate drops significantly during last year

CONCORD — New Hampshire is slowly working its way back to the 650,000 non-farm jobs the state had before the Great Recession started in 2008, but is not likely to hit the high-water mark this year, based on month-end statistics for February provided by the Department of Employment Security.

As of the end of February, the state had 635,300 jobs — an increase of 7,000 from the 628,300 reported at the end of February last year.

In the depths of the recession, the number fell below 625,000.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 4.7 percent, a significant decrease from the February 2013 rate of 5.4 percent. There are more people working, and the size of the labor force has increased.

Seasonally adjusted estimates for February placed the number of employed residents at 709,440, an increase of 5,840 from February 2013.

The number of unemployed residents decreased by 4,920 from February 2013. The total labor force increased by 1,830 to 744,620.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 6.7 percent, a decrease of one percentage point from the February 2013 rate.

Massachusetts and Vermont have already experienced a full job recovery. Economists predicted in May of last year that New Hampshire should regain all of the jobs lost to the recession by the summer of 2014, but that now looks unlikely unless the state can generate 15,000 jobs between now and then.

In past recoveries New Hampshire had been the leader among the New England states in job recovery after a recession.

Gov. Maggie Hassan said the trends are all in the right direction.

“Today’s announcement is encouraging news that reinforces that our economy is strengthening and that we are out from under the worst burdens of the recession,” she said. “New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is now a full two points below the national average. At the same time, participation in our labor force has continued to increase.”



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