The Massachusetts economy is red hot, with the unemployment rate at its lowest in 16 years. Employers fret that they can’t find enough workers, and help-wanted signs are posted on store windows across the state.
But in the training kitchen at Utec Inc. in Lowell, that booming economy, marked by a 2.8 percent jobless rate in December, is a world away.
Here the crew, mostly in their 20s and at work deboning chicken, peeling onions, and washing dishes, are eager to be part of a state labor market that, on the surface, looks to be the best since the dot-com boom of the 1990s. But for them, regular employment has been elusive. Dogged by spotty work histories, incomplete educations, and sometimes a criminal record, these would-be workers have struggled during this economic recovery.
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