In terms of employment, the past year has been an arduous one for the Boston metropolitan area, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ recent quarterly report. The report states that compared to nationwide numbers, Boston has had little job growth as of April. This news contrasts with reports of statewide GDP growth and low unemployment rates.
The report shows that the Boston area total nonfarm employment stood at 2.7 million in April, a 1.5 percent rise from the previous year. In the Boston-Cambridge-Newton area specifically, which accounts for 67 percent of the area’s workforce, the same span of time saw just under 30,000 new jobs. According to a press release by the BLS, “during the same period, the national job count increased 1.9 percent.”
Almost all industries reported job growth that didn’t reach country-wide standards. The leisure and hospitality supersector, for example, gained only about 1,000 jobs, which is 2.5 percent lower than the national average. Even the education and health service supersector, which represents the largest job market in the area and gained 13,600 jobs, underperformed.
According to the BLS press release, “two supersectors in the Boston area lost jobs over the year—manufacturing and government… [whereas] nationally, government employment increased.” The two industries lost 3,300 and 2,200 jobs, respectively.
In a more successful turn, the information, financial activity and “other services” sectors surged ahead of the nation in growth. Financial activities, specifically, gained over 6,000 jobs. The city also boasts a GDP of over $380 billion. Although GDP measures all monetary transactions, whether positive or negative, it is still a good sign that money is moving. According to the BLS, the Boston area’s unemployment rate is also 1 percent lower than the state average.
The metropolitan area has long been trying to bounce back after a steep fall in employment at the end of 2015 when the over-the-year growth stooped to less than 1 percent. The city has been using its longstanding reputation as a technology hub and business-growing mecca to try and counter the damage done, building up local government’s brand of an “innovative economy” that aids in research and the development of creative urban projects. Yet, despite this movement and the city’s exceptionally educated workforce, it’s one of only three major areas in the country (the other two being Houston and Chicago) struggling to keep up.
The loss of manufacturing jobs in the Boston area follows trends throughout the nation, where over the last few decades, industry has largely moved overseas to meet desires for cheaper labor. More recently, automation of manufacturing workplaces has created an even bigger hole for local workers in the field.