Mass. unemployment down to 6.3 percent

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May 17, 2012, 7:29 pm
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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston/Waltham, Mass.) - With more than 31,000 new jobs reported created in Massachusetts so far this year, unemployment dropped in the Bay State in April from 6.5 percent to 6.3 percent - well below the national 8.1 percent and the lowest level for Massachusetts in four years.

Two examples of very different companies that nonetheless have something key in common – they’re adding a lot of jobs in Massachusetts – are Panera Bread, the bakery café chain, and Dassault Systemes, a global product design software firm that runs North American operations out of a Waltham campus.

Panera’s opened two new cafes in the last month, in Boston’s Theatre District and Harvard Square Cambridge, that created more than 100 jobs, and Dassault, which consolidated several subsidiaries in Waltham and had 745 staffers there in October, has since grown to 800 and expects to keep adding 20 more jobs every quarter for the rest of this year.

Gregg Godfrey, area director for Panera LLC, said he was struck by the contrast between opening the Boston location and a Walpole, Mass., location three years ago.

"In Walpole, we had over 500 people apply to work there, so it was great, but now when we opened this café, we only had 250 to 300 people that applied," said Godfrey. "To us it’s a sign that the economy’s turning around. We’re not getting as many applications as we used to get in the past."

Dick Morgan, Dassault’s vice president of human relations overseeing hiring at multiple locations from Montreal and Providence to Los Angeles and Seattle, said even through the recession, Dassault had strong business from a wide range of companies looking to use its software to design everything from swingsets to airplanes.

"We’re certainly doing much more hiring than we were, say, in 2009 and 2010. There was uncertainty, there was an economic decline, no question," Morgan said.

Today, Morgan sees not just strong demand for Dassault products and services specifically but evidence of a wide-ranging recovery in business spending generally.

"I think business is definitely back," Morgan said. "I think business is definitely back. I’m an HR professional, and I talk to lots of people, and I will tell you we’re all busy, and we are busy hiring, and we’re busy figuring out how to take advantage of the turnaround."

With videographer David Jacobs.

Tags: Boston, trade, massachusetts, economy, unemployment , jobs, Peter Howe, business , retail, hospitality, technical
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