Durable Goods

Worker Javad Memarzadeh, of Needham, Mass., right, dusts washers in a display, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, at a Home Depot location, in Boston. (

(The Center Square) – Unemployment insurance claims continue to rise in Massachusetts, and one advocacy group is saying labor costs and a lack of qualified applicants are putting a strain on small businesses.

The U.S. Department of Labor released its weekly Unemployment Insurance Claims report, showing an increase in initial unemployment claims being filed across the nation. For the week ending Jan. 1, an increase of 7,000 new claims were filed to push the total to 207,000.

In Massachusetts alone for the week, there was an increase of 3,639 new unemployment claims, putting the state at 13,522 advance claims. The previous week, there were 9,883 new claims filed.

For insured unemployment for the week ending Dec. 25, 2021, the state saw an increase of 6,361 claims to put the state total at 66,428.

Christophe Carlozzi, director the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said the advocacy group continues to work with small businesses who are struggling to find qualified applicants, according to the group’s latest jobs report.

The report indicates that 13% of business owners say labor costs are their biggest challenge, Carlozzi said.

“As the Massachusetts legislative session resumes, the top priority for lawmakers must be to create an atmosphere here in our state that is conducive to economic growth,” Calozzi said in the release. “That means refraining from piling on costly new mandates for our business owners at a time when employers are already struggling with rising labor costs, product shortages, and finding qualified workers for their job openings.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate for November 2021 was 3.9%. Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is 5.4%.

In Massachusetts, according to the NFIB, nearly one-third of small businesses owners plan to raise compensation over the next three months, and nearly half are reporting they have job openings they cannot fill. More than half of the construction firms in the state have a job opening.

The organization reports that small business owners are planning to fill positions at record-high levels in the coming months. However, during December, small businesses are seeing applications lacking the necessary qualifications for open positions.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.