Berkshire jobless rate dips slightly; still 1 point higher than state


PITTSFIELD >> The Berkshire County unemployment rate dropped slightly in February, but remains a full point higher than the state rate.

Berkshire unemployment dropped from 5.9 to 5.7 percent last month, mirroring the drop in the state jobless rate, which fell from 4.9 percent to 4.2 percent in February, according to figures released by the state Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

The national unemployment rate is 4.9 percent.

A total of 500 jobs were lost in the Pittsfield Metropolitan NECTA area, which includes 15 Berkshire County municipalities, between January and February — a decrease of 1.2 percent. But 900 positions were added in the same area during the 12-month period that ended in February, an increase of 2.2 percent, according to the state figures. That increase was the highest among the seven New England City and Town Areas that the state tracks numbers for.

The month-to-month job losses are attributed to seasonal hiring and the downsizing or closing of some retail companies, such as Macy's, according to Heather Boulger, the executive director of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board.

Private sector job growth in the Pittsfield metro area during February was recorded in several sectors: good producing, private service providing, mining/lodging/construction; manufacturing; trade/transportation/utilities; financial services; and education health/services.

Job losses were recorded in the professional/scientific/business sectors; leisure/hospitality and government. There were no changes in the information services sector.

The county's labor force and number of employed both increased slightly in February, while the number of Berkshire residents collecting jobless benefits fell by 168 persons to 3,692. Over 4,200 county residents were collecting jobless benefits in February 2015, when Berkshire unemployment was 6.5 percent.

Unemployment in the Great Barrington, North Adams and Pittsfield labor market areas also fell slightly last month. The biggest decrease occurred in the North Adams area, where the jobless rate fell half a percentage point to 6.3 percent.

The jobless rate in the city of North Adams also fell half a percentage point to 7.6 percent, while unemployment in the city of Pittsfield dropped to 5.7 percent from 6.0 percent.

The local numbers released by the state are not seasonally adjusted, which means they take into account seasonal construction jobs and positions in the travel and tourism industry.

Contact Tony Dobrowolski at 413-496-6224.


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