PITTSFIELD -- The Berkshire County unemployment rate jumped more than half a percentage point in January to 7.5 percent, according to figures released by a state agency on Tuesday.

County unemployment had been 6.9 percent in December.

The local January rate is higher than the unseasonably adjusted state unemployment rate of 7.1 percent. The national unemployment rate is 6.6 percent.

There were 5,287 Berkshire residents collecting unemployment benefits in January, the highest number in 10 months. It was the first time the number of county residents collecting unemployment benefits had broken the 5,000 barrier since June.

Spikes in the local unemployment rate in January are typical. The Berkshire unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in January 2013, before falling to 7.6 percent the following month.


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