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State saw best job growth last year since 2000

The Massachusetts economy added more than 10,000 jobs in December as the state capped its best year for job growth since the dot-com era.

Despite the impact of automatic federal budget cuts known as sequestration, the state gained more that 55,000 jobs in 2013, compared to about 49,000 in 2012 and 43,000 in 2011, the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. It was the best year of job growth since 2000, when the tech boom -- shortly before it went bust -- drove the creation of about 95,000 jobs.

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“That’s about as good as you can expect to do,” said Daniel Hodge, director of economic and public policy research at the University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute. “To add 55,000 jobs in a year when the federal government and sequestration providing a negative drag shows really well for the private sector in Massachusetts.”

The state unemployment rate slipped to 7 percent last month, from 7.1 percent in November. For the year, unemployment averaged 6.9 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 2012.

These figures, however, could change. The US Labor Department will release its annual revisions of state employment and unemployment data in March. In some years, those revisions have been significant.

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Since a slowdown this summer, Massachusetts employers have added jobs in each of the past five months. December’s increases followed gains of 5,100 jobs in November and more than 9,000 in both October and September.

Last month, the biggest job gains came in professional, scientific and business services sector, which includes technology, scientific research, and consulting firms and added 4,700 jobs. Trade, transportation, and utilities, which includes retailers, added 4,300 jobs last month. Leisure and hospitality, which includes hotels and restaurants, added 2,600 jobs over the month.

Construction, however, lost 1,300 jobs in December. The manufacturing and education and health services sectors each shed 300 jobs last month.

The Massachusetts unemployment rate in November surpassed the nation’s for the first time in more than five years, and remained above the national rate of 6.7 percent in December. The state’s annual average jobless rates, however, was lower than the nation’s 7.4 percent.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com. Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse@globe.com
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