Berkshire unemployment rate sinks
By Tony Dobrowolski, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Posted: 09/21/2011 12:04:57 AM EDT
Updated: 09/21/2011 06:41:15 AM EDT
Wednesday September 21, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- Berkshire County's unemployment dropped to its lowest level of the year in
The local jobless rate dropped almost a full percentage point from 7 to 6.2 percent last month --
the largest month-to-month decline of 2011, according to figures released Tuesday by the state
Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
Until August, the largest monthly declines in the local jobless rate had occurred between
February and March and April and May, when the rate fell almost half a percentage point both
Albert A. Ingegni III, the chairman of the Berkshire County Regional Employment Board,
referred to the decrease between July and August as a "good thing" because it corresponds to a
drop in the state unemployment rate, which went from 7.8 percent to 7 percent in August.
National unemployment remains at 9.1 percent.
"Having said that, an awful lot of people are working more than one job," he said. "That's
skewing the stats somewhat. And people are staying in their jobs longer."
However, over the last 12 months, Berkshire unemployment is down more than a percentage
point from the 7.5 percent of August 2010. According to the state, a total of 3,000 jobs were
added in the Pittsfield area during the last 12 months, an increase of 8.2 percent.
Ingegni said some of that increase has been generated by seasonal employment -- the numbers
released on Tuesday are not adjusted for seasonality, which means they take into account short-
term employment such as seasonal construction jobs, and positions in the travel and tourism
industry. But that rise in jobs also takes into account hiring by some of the county's major
employers, such as General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.
"General Dynamics is definitely a factor," Ingegni said. "Health care continues to add jobs.
Travel and tourism continue to add jobs. Between this year and last year, this summer has been a
better year for us.
"The Berkshires tend to benefit when the weather is good," he said.
The total Berkshire labor force increased by 200 workers in August, as the number of employed
grew by 770 to 72,422, the highest figure in 12 months. The number of unemployed in the
county dropped by 570 workers to 4,791, the first time it has been below 5,000 this year. The
state measures the number of unemployed by the percentage of workers who are receiving
unemployment compensation. Those whose benefits have expired or have stopped looking for
work are not included in the figures.
Over the last 12 months, the total Berkshire labor force has grown by almost 2,000 workers, the
number of employed has increased by almost 3,000 and the amount of unemployed has dropped
"I think there's jobs in pockets," Ingegni said. "Northern Berkshire is not hiring as much as
Statewide, unemployment rates were down in all 22 labor market areas last month, including
Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington. In the North Adams area, which also includes part
of Vermont, unemployment dropped almost a full percentage point from 8.7 to 7.8 percent.
Unemployment also declined in the cities of Pittsfield and North Adams, but it remains above the
county rate, especially in North Adams where the jobless rate is 8.8 percent. The unemployment
rate in the city of Pittsfield dropped from 7.5 to 6.9 percent in August, as the number of
unemployed fell below 1,800 for the first time this year.
To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
or (413) 496-6224.
At a glance . . .
Here's a look at Berkshire County's monthly unemployment rates since March 2010. The
numbers are not seasonally
December 2010: 8.1
November 2010: 8.1
October 2010: 7.2
September 2010: 7.6
August 2010: 7.7
July 2010: 8.5
June 2010: 8.4
May 2010: 8.6
April 2010: 9.1
March 2010: 9.3
Source: Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development