Cape: Jobless Rate Down, Labor Force Growing
In an upbeat sign that the Cape’s economy continued to heal this summer, the state reported this week that August’s unemployment rate in the area was down from last year while the labor force grew.
The Barnstable County jobless rate this August was 4.8 percent, the same as it was in July, according to the Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In August 2013, the rate was 5.5 percent.
“For those two months, our economy was performing very well, especially in relation to the same time last year,” said David Augustinho, executive director of the Cape and Islands Workforce Investment Board.
The number of employed people this August was 128,506, up from 126,874 in August 2013.
“For us to have even more people employed, what that shows is employers are a little more comfortable,” Augustinho said. “I think last year they were still hesitant about staffing up to the level they might have staffed up to prior to 2009. Last summer was so good, this year they had good confidence to staff up to levels we haven’t seen in five years.”
The August unemployment rates for some towns were even lower than the region’s rate and lower than the state rate of 6 percent, itself a percentage point lower than the 7 percent in August 2013.
At 3.6 percent, Eastham had the Cape’s lowest unemployment rate, down from 5.7 percent in August 2013. The number of employed people last month was 2,749, up from 2,714 in August 2013. And the number of people without jobs in Eastham shrank from 163 in August 2013 to 102 last month.
While the town’s unemployment rate was relatively low, the number of vacant jobs was high, said Jim Russo, executive director for the Eastham Chamber of Commerce. He said restaurants and hotels in town seemed to have a hard time filling positions over the summer.
“We don’t have enough people applying for these jobs,” Russo said. “I know all over the Cape businesses are having a hard time bringing people in because housing is such an issue.”
Bourne had the Cape’s highest unemployment rate last month, at 6.3 percent, but that was still a decrease from the rate in August 2013, which was 6.6 percent.
Despite the relatively high jobless rate, the number of employed people in Bourne this August increased to 11,833, up from 11,683 in August 2013. And the number of people without jobs dropped from 823 in August 2013 to 800 last month.
Augustinho said the 4.8 percent Capewide jobless rate was “close to full employment.”
“That’s an excellent barometer for our economy,” he said.
Follow Amy Anthony on Twitter at @AmyAnthonyCCT.