Tony Dobrowolski: Spring cleaning



Summer is almost here, which means it's time for the business desk to perform a long delayed spring cleaning.

Here are some observations on different topics that we've come across since the end of the winter.

June is graduation time, and if you're interested in a career in nursing, Oregon is the best state to pursue it in, according to a new study by Wallet Hub.

Massachusetts is ranked 19th on the list, which includes all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study, which ranks the best and worst states for nurses in 2014, considers 15 metrics that collectively assess the job opportunities that exist for nurses in each market, how much competition there is for each position, differences in the workplace environment, and projections for the future.

Health Care and Social Assistance is the largest employment sector in Massachusetts -- in Berkshire County it accounts for nearly one in every five jobs -- so it may be surprising that in nursing opportunities the state barely cracks the top 20 nationally.

But Massachusetts is ranked second in terms of having the most nursing job openings, behind only the District of Columbia. It's also ranked second in the national rankings among the six New England states behind only Maine, which is 15th, and third-highest among states that are located on the Eastern Seaboard (Maryland is 10th).

In contrast, Vermont is ranked 32nd on the overall list, and New York, 39th. New York is ranked 47th in least number of nursing job openings, and tied for 48th with Vermont in lowest annual salaries adjusted for the Cost of Living.

The Deep South is the worst place to pursue a nursing career, according to the survey. The last nine spots in the rankings are occupied by states located between West Virginia, Georgia and Arkansas.


I visited Berkshire Organics in Dalton last week for the first time since they made the transition to their new business model, which has five separate businesses located under the same roof (see related story on this page).

It's impressive how owner Aleisha and Brian Gibbons have utilized the extra space they've taken on in their building by expanding their business into the area that was previously occupied by Burgner's Market.

The Gibbonses aren't the first ones in the Berkshires to do this. Guido's Fresh Marketplace also has specialty merchants operating within its stores in Great Barrington and Pittsfield.

The Gibbonses said this kind of business model "seems to be popping up more." As proof, they cited a market they know of that provides similar services in Iowa.

Berkshire Organics now has a butcher shop, bakery, a meals and catering enterprise and a business that sells homemade cheese all under the same roof.

The Gibbonses are also planning to add a drive-up juice bar this summer.

"We knew there was a market for these other businesses, because our customers had an appetite for (them)," Brian Gibbons said.

It wouldn't surprise me to see more businesses in the Berkshires adopt this kind of business model in the future if they have the space to do so.


We all know it's difficult for teens to find jobs, particularly those without high school diplomas. But it's a lot more difficult on the West Coast than it is here.

Using U.S. Census Bureau data, the Employment Policy Institute has determined that the five metro areas with the highest teen unemployment rates are located in either California, or in the Portland, Ore. area.

No. 1 is the Riverside-San Bernardino area outside of Los Angeles with a teen unemployment rate of 54.2 percent, followed by the Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton metro area in the states of Oregon and Washington at 53.8 percent.

The next three are, in order, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, all with teen unemployment rates above 35 percent. The national average is 21.6 percent.

EPI analyzed unemployment for 16- to 19-year-olds with less than a high school diploma in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the country, and used the data to determine the 15 worst metro areas for teens seeking a job.

Interestingly, none of the major metro areas in New England were listed among the top 15 and only two in the Northeast made that list. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware is ranked sixth at 33.2 percent, while Pittsburgh is eighth at 32.9 percent. Two other West Coast metro areas, in Seattle and Sacramento, Calif., also made the top 15.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at


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