By Bill Kirk
---- — Local employment figures for August were released by the state yesterday, and the Merrimack Valley saw a modest improvement compared to last year, but a slight uptick compared to the previous month.
The August 2012 unemployment rate was 11.2 percent, a decrease from 11.5 percent in August 2011, but a slight rise from 10.9 percent in July 2012.
The area being measured includes Lawrence, Methuen and Salem, Mass.
In the Haverhill, North Andover, Amesbury region, unemployment was 6.7 percent in August 2011, dropping slightly to 6.5 percent in both July and August 2012.
More specifically, the unemployment rate in Lawrence for August 2012 was 14.8 percent, a reduction from 15.6 percent last August, but an increase from 13.9 percent in July.
Haverhill saw its rate go from 8 percent last August to 7 percent this year, close to the 6.9 percent rate of July.
In Methuen, the rate stayed the same, at 8.8 percent last August, 8.8 percent in August 2012, and the same rate for July.
North Andover's unemployment rate is hovering around 5 or 6 percent, while Andover's rate is the lowest in the area, at 4.7 percent, down from 6 percent last August.
Statewide, the August seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate was 6.4 percent, down 0.2 of a percentage point from 6.6 percent recorded in July. Over the year, the statewide unadjusted rate was down 0.8 of a percentage point from the August 2011 unadjusted rate of 7.2 percent.