PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire County unemployment rate increased slightly in May as the area's total labor force reached its highest level of 2013, according to figures released by a state agency on Tuesday.
Unemployment in the Berkshires is now 6.8 percent, slightly higher than the 6.7 percent registered in April, according to the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development. Berkshire unemployment was 6.4 percent in May 2012.
The county's total labor force, the number of Berkshire residents either employed or collecting unemployment benefits, increased to 69,872 individuals last month, the highest number since January. Of that sum, 65,094 workers are employed.
Less than national rate
The state's seasonably unadjusted unemployment rate is also 6.8 percent. National unemployment is 7.6 percent.
Over the month, job gains occurred in all 12 areas where estimates are published, including Pittsfield, where the number of positions increased by 900, or 2.6 percent, between April and May. Over the year job gains in Pittsfield have decreased by 300 positions, or 0.8 percent.
Great Barrington fares better
Unemployment in the Pittsfield and North Adams statistical areas also increased slightly in May, but dropped almost half a percentage point in the Great Barrington labor market area.
The jobless rate in the city of North Adams remained at 8.9 percent in May, but increased more than half a percentage point in the city of Pittsfield to 7.8 percent. The number of Pittsfield residents receiving unemployment compensation increased by 180 to 1,780 in May.
The unadjusted unemployment rates and job estimates for the state labor market areas reflect seasonal fluctuations and therefore may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.
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