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The 2-minute drill

Mass. employers added 222,000 jobs last year

The local labor market ended 2021 on an upbeat note, but a sharp decline in the jobless rate last month was skewed by statistical revisions.

The local labor market ended 2021 on an upbeat note.© Brian Snyder/REUTERS

Massachusetts employers added 20,100 jobs in December, according to data released on Friday, wrapping up a year in which they struggled to fill open positions.

Employment in the state increased by more than 222,000 jobs in 2021 but remains about 155,000 below the pre-pandemic level of February 2020. Hiring has been restrained by COVID-19 disruptions and the reluctance of many residents to jump back into the labor force.

The jobless rate fell to 3.9 percent last month from a revised 5.2 percent in November, matching the national rate, according to the Department of Unemployment Assistance.

But the DUA issued a caveat.

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“Revisions for December were larger than historical averages as the [US] Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to improve the performance of their models in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and subsequent recovery,” the department said in a news release.

In other words, the December jobless rate isn’t comparable to November’s. The same goes for the unexpectedly large decline in the state’s labor pool. Nearly 42,000 people exited the workforce last month, meaning they were no longer actively seeking a job or counted as unemployed.

The DUA also said preliminary January 2022 and revised 2021 unemployment rate, labor force, and job estimates for Massachusetts won’t be published until March 11, 2022.

The bottom line: We’ll need to wait until until March to get a clearer picture of the local job market.