The jobs report released Thursday marked an end to the slow and moderate economic growth of 2012, as the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development announced that the unemployment rate rose to to 6.7 percent in December.
That's up from 6.6 percent in November , but two-tenths of a percentage point below the December 2011 level.
Alan Clayton-Matthews, an economist at Northeastern University, said although sluggish, the growth encouraged people to re-enter the labor force.
“The increase in the number of jobs encouraged people to enter the labor force and that kept the unemployment rate from falling,” Clayton-Matthews said. It only fell two-tenths of a percentage point in the past year, and in the last few months is actually has been rising.”
Clayton-Matthews predicts slow employment growth in the first quarter of this year due to the recently raised payroll tax, but there is pent up demand for housing, automobiles and other spending.
“That negative force from the fiscal cliff, and the positive one from the pent up demand, will mean that growth will improve throughout the year, starting off slow and getting to moderate growth by the end of the year,” he said.
The state reported the most gains in the education and health services sector, as well as in leisure, hospitality and construction. The sectors that lost the most jobs in December were trade, transportation, and utilities.
Clayton-Matthews says he expects to see growth in the technology sector, and construction as the housing market comes back.
Massachusetts’ unemployment rate remains well below the national rate of 7.8 percent.