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Mass. jobless rate rises slightly to 5.6% in July

Up from 5.5% in June

Last month, employers in Massachusetts added the most jobs in three years as hiring picked up across a variety of industries, the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday.

Payrolls increased by nearly 14,000 jobs, the most since July 2011, when the state gained nearly 24,000 jobs.

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Nine of the 10 major sectors tracked by the state labor department added jobs last month; only government employers cut jobs in July.

“It’s a strong monthly job growth rate, for sure,” said Daniel Hodge, director of economic and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute. “That’s the classic broad-based growth you’d be looking for in a recovery.”

The state’s unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.6 percent from 5.5 percent, but that appeared to be the result of more people entering the job market.

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Only people who are actively seeking work are counted as unemployed, so when more people launch or resume job searches, it can temporarily push the unemployment rate higher.

Generally, though, economists view a growing labor force as positive, a sign that enough jobs are becoming available to encourage people to seek work.

The state’s labor force increased by about 9,500 people last month; it has grown by more than 25,000 in the past six months.

Massachusetts has been buoyed by a strengthening national economy, which has experienced several months of strong job growth.

The state’s unemployment rate remains below the national average, which was 6.2 percent in July.

Over the past year, Massachusetts employers have added more than 67,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate, at 7.2 percent a year ago, has declined 1.6 percentage points since then.

Economic data are subject to revision as additional information becomes available.

In June, for example, the state initially reported that employers had added about 3,700 jobs, but that figure was revised to 2,500 in the state’s report on Thursday.

Among the bright spots in the July employment report was manufacturing, which added 500 jobs last month.

The sector had been losing jobs, in part because manufacturing companies are sometimes unable to find qualified candidates to fill their open positions.

Professional and business services, a sector that includes technology, scientific research, and consulting firms, led July’s employment gains, adding 5,000 jobs.

Also adding jobs were education and health services (up 3,800), construction (up 1,900), and financial services (up 1,000).

Government was the only major sector to see a decline in the number of jobs, according to the report.

Federal, state, and local government employers shed a total of 2,200 jobs in July.

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