Wednesday August 22, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Unemploy ment in the Berkshires rose only slightly in July, but the jobless rates in the county’s two cities are a full point higher than the countywide average and remain slightly above the state’s.

The county rate went from 6 to 6.1 percent last month, but unemployment in North Adams is 7.3 per cent, while it’s 7 percent in Pittsfield. Both city rates are higher than the state’s non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.6 percent, according to figures released on Tuesday by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

The national unemployment rate is 8.3 percent.

Neither city’s unemployment rate increased significantly last month, and both have dropped substantially since the calendar year began. But the jobless rate in North Adams has been above the state rate for the last 13 months, while the rate in Pittsfield has been higher since September 2011.

While acknowledging that his city’s unemployment rate is higher than the region’s, North Adams Mayor Rich ard Alcombright noted that the jobless rate in the city is two percentage points lower than it was in July 2011, while the rate for the North Adams labor market area is more than a point lower than 12 months ago.

"We’re still better than we were last year," Alcombright said. "Looking at the trends, the [labor market] area and the city’s percentage have gone down at a higher rate than the state and some other communities."

Comparitively, last mon th’s unemployment rate in Pitts field was lower than a year ago, when it was 7.5 percent in July 2011.

"It’s pretty much where it’s been," said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi. "It hasn’t changed appreciably."

Heather Boulger, the executive director of the Berkshire County Regional Employ ment Board, could not be reached for comment.

There are some bright spots. Total employment in the Pittsfield area increased by 300 positions in July, the second highest jump among the 12 similar areas that the state tracks on a monthly basis. The Pittsfield area has also added 1,400 positions over the last 12 months.

The geography that makes up the Pittsfield city and town area could not be determined on Tuesday, although the numbers differ only slightly from the Pittsfield labor market area that includes Central Berkshire.

Unemployment in the county as a whole is also more than half a percentage point lower than the 6.8 percent registered in July 2011. The number of unemployed in the Berkshires has dropped by 678 workers to 4,531 over the last 12 months.

Among the county’s three labor market areas, unemployment was up slightly in Pittsfield and Great Barr ington in July, but re mained the same in North Adams. Unemployment in creased in 17 of the state’s 22 labor market areas last month, but has declined over the year in all of those areas.

Tuesday’s numbers are not seasonally adjusted, which means they take into consideration short-term employment such as jobs in the travel and tourism industry and seasonal construction positions. They may show different levels and trends than the state’s seasonally adjusted job estimates.

The labor force, unemployment rates and job estimates for all 50 states are based on statistical methodologies spec ified by the U.S. De partment of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow