Local unemployment rates fell or remained flat in about two-thirds of Massachusetts towns and cities last month, according to estimates from the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. It actually went up slightly in Dover and Sherborn.
For Dover, unemployment went up from 116 people (4.2 percent) in January to 118 people (4.2 percent) in February. The rate is down from February 2011 when 124 people (4.5 percent) were collecting unemployment.
In Sherborn, the rise was a bit steeper, going from 85 people (4.5 percent) in January to 92 (4.9 percent) in February. That was slightly better than February 2011 when 94 people (5 percent) were listed as unemployed.
This does not include people whose government benefits ran out, gave up looking for work or have had to settle for part time or lower income jobs.
February’s statewide improvements came on the heels of a spike in local jobless estimates in most regions in January. At the time, state labor officials said local unemployment rates often peak in January after holiday shopping season dries up.
Last month’s rates likely improved partly because contract jobs at colleges, such as janitorial and food services, returned for the spring semester, said Rena Kottcamp, research director for the Division of Unemployment Assistance.
“Generally, the rates should continue to show progress,” said Kottcamp.
The state measures unemployment in two different ways. One version of the figures is adjusted to remove seasonal ups and downs — a loss of tourism-related jobs seen every fall, for example. The other set of figures is not seasonally adjusted.
State labor officials continued to stress that measured either way, unemployment remains down from a year earlier. February’s adjusted jobless rate was 6.9 percent, unchanged from January, but down from 7.7 percent in February 2011.
The unadjusted February jobless rate, released last week, was 7.5 percent, down from 7.7 percent in January and below February 2011’s rate of 8.2 percent.
Local unemployment estimates are not seasonally adjusted. Jobless rates declined in 16 regions tracked by the state and held steady in two — the area surrounding Haverhill, North Andover and Amesbury, and in western Massachusetts.
Joblessness rose in four other regions: the Lawrence-Methuen-Salem area; greater Fall River; and on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, state figures said.
Unemployment remained in double-digits in many Cape Cod communities, as well as in Fall River, Gloucester and Somerset.
Some of the lowest jobless rates were in Brookline, 3.2 percent; Weston, 3.3 percent; Cambridge, 4.1 percent; Arlington, 4.2 percent, and Newton, 4.3 percent.
Also seen in Wicked Local: Sherborn.