State House News Service

BOSTON -- The state's unemployment rate continued a three-month slide downward and Massachusetts continued to pack on jobs in December, the Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday.

The 55,500 jobs added between December 2012 and December 2013 was the largest job growth in that timeframe since the dot-com era job additions between December 1999 and December 2000, an administration official said.

The Bay State's 7 percent unemployment rate remains above the national rate of 6.7 percent in December, a departure from months past when the national jobless rate exceeded the state rate. November was the first month that the state's rate surpassed the national rate.

The state added 10,400 jobs in December, according to the preliminary numbers. Nearly all of December's job growth came in the professional, scientific and business services, and the trade transportation and utilities sectors.

Leisure and hospitality also added 2,600 jobs while growth in other areas was more limited, and the construction sector lost 1,300.