BOSTON (AP) — The unemployment rate in Massachusetts dropped to 6.4 percent in March even as the state lost 5,500 jobs during the month.

The state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said Thursday the 6.4 percent figure is a slight drop from the 6.5 percent rate recorded in February. The decrease in the unemployment rate was due mainly to several thousand discouraged workers dropping out of the labor market.

In the first three months of 2013, Massachusetts added 12,600 jobs. During the past year, Massachusetts added 40,300 jobs, 37,300 of which were in the private sector.

Among those areas that saw job growth in March were the education, health services, and leisure and hospitality sectors. Those areas that lost jobs last month included the manufacturing, transportation, construction, professional, scientific, and business services sectors.

Overall, the March estimates show that more than 3.2 million Massachusetts residents were employed and about 223,000 were unemployed.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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