BOSTON —The unemployment rate in Massachusetts rose to 16.3 percent in May from 15.1 percent in April, according to a report released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Massachusetts was one of just three states where the rate continued to rise after April, when most states recorded their highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression. Unemployment improved in 38 states and the District of Columbia and was stable in nine states.
The national unemployment rate was 13.3 percent in May, down from 14.7 percent in April. The May unemployment rate was significantly higher in all 50 states than it was in May 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Massachusetts, unemployment was 2.9 percent in May 2019. There were 3.08 million people employed in the state in May 2020, up from 3.02 million in April.
Every state has hit record levels in the past two months in the BLS monthly reports, which the government began tracking in 1976. Economic historians say the peak unemployment rate in Massachusetts during the Great Depression came in 1934, when it hit 25 percent. During the Great Recession that started in December 2007, Massachusetts unemployment topped out at 8.3 percent.
Friday's report is based primarily on household surveys and is more comprehensive than the