Unemployment application

The Berkshire County unemployment rate dropped below 6 percent last month, for the first time since May.

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire County's unemployment rate dipped below 6 percent for the time in five months in October, falling one-tenth of a percentage point, to 5.9 percent, according to figures released by a state agency Tuesday.

But, the local jobless rate still is higher than the state rate, which declined two-tenths of a percentage point, to 5.3 percent, last month. The national unemployment rate is 4.6 percent.

The number of local residents in the Berkshire labor force — the number of employed and unemployed — dropped slightly, to 61,306, in October as 56 more people found employment; the number of people collecting jobless benefits dropped by 60. The county's current labor force is almost 500 fewer than it was 12 months ago, when the Berkshire unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.

Unemployment in the Pittsfield metropolitan area, which includes Central Berkshire, went from 6.3 percent in September to 6.2 percent last month. In the county's two cities, unemployment remained at 7.8 percent in North Adams and ticked up one-tenth of a point in Pittsfield, to 7.3 percent.

The number of North Adams residents receiving jobless benefits remained the same in October, at 456. Unemployment in the Great Barrington labor market area decreased one-tenth of a percentage point, to 4.2 percent.