Business

Mass. posts biggest monthly job gain in more than 3 years

Massachusetts posted its biggest monthly job gains in more than three years in November, another sign that an accelerating economic expansion is boosting employment across industries.

The state’s employers added 13,500 jobs last month, the most since July 2011, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The state unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, from 6 percent in October and 7.1 percent a year earlier, the state agency reported Thursday.

The surge in hiring here reflects strong job employment growth nationwide. The US economy created 321,000 jobs in November, the 10th consecutive month that gains exceeded 200,000, according to the US Labor Department. The national unemployment rate last month was 5.8 percent.

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“I feel — and I think others do, too — as positive as I have perhaps since the recovery started taking hold about four years ago,” said Daniel Hodge, director of economic and public policy research at the UMass Donahue Institute. “We control our own destiny to some extent, but when the US economy is doing well, it sure helps.”

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Massachusetts has gained jobs in six of the past seven months. Over the past year, the state has added nearly 60,000 jobs.

Economists said the growth last month was fueled by the state’s significant education and health services sector, which accounts for nearly 30 percent of jobs in Massachusetts. The sector led November’s gains, adding 3,900 jobs. Over the past year, health and education employment has grown by more than 18,000 jobs, or about 2.5 percent

Economists added that the job growth was broad-based. Only two of the state’s 10 major employment sectors, construction and information, lost jobs last month. The professional, scientific and business services sector added 1,600 jobs; trade, transportation, and utilities grew by 1,500; and manufacturing and leisure and hospitality sectors each added 1,300 jobs.

In another encouraging sign, the number of people working or seeking work grew by nearly 18,000 in November, the fifth consecutive month of labor force growth. Economists say an expanding labor force is another sign of an improving job market; when more jobs are available, more people seek or find employment.

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Over the past year, the state’s labor force grew by 80,500 workers, compared to an increase of just 7,500 people the preceding year, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economics professor at Northeastern University.

“That’s a whopping number,” Clayton-Matthews said. “It’s very strong evidence of employment growth.”

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @megwoolhouse.