The Berkshire County economy is picking up speed, with the area’s employment numbers matching the state average for the first time in months, and the real estate market improving. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…
The Berkshire County unemployment rate is now tied with the state-wide average at 5.8 percent, according to the most recent figures for the month of May released by the State’s Executive Office of Labor and Development. The numbers have not been seasonally adjusted. The rate for Berkshire County in April also marks an unemployment lower than 6% for the first time since 2008. Currently, the national unemployment rate sits at 8.2%.
A reflection of the improving numbers can also be seen in the area’s housing market, which is seeing a rise particularly in the Northern half of the County including North Adams, says Chapin Fish, president of the Berkshire County Board of Realtors.
Fish explained that the Berkshire housing market is typically divided, with more first time homebuyers in the North, and second homes in the South. Fish mentioned that the numbers for the Northern for first time buyers are doing well, and haven’t seen an increase quite like this since the 2010 First Time Homebuyers Tax credit.
In the South, the market now seems to be picking up, too.
The Berkshire County economy is somewhat divided too, with more of the larger single employers in North and Central County, and more self-employed people located in the South. Chapin Fish says that the improving real estate market has an effect on the self-employed, whose improved business may not be reflected in the overall data.
The MassBenchmarks Editorial Board released a statement Thursday on the health of the Massachusetts economy. They said that considering factors such strains in the state and federal governments and their cutting jobs and worrying employers, the European Debt Crisis, and uncertainty in other overseas markets, the economy in Massachusetts is struggling, but improving. Michael Goodman, Co-Editor of MassBenchmarks and Associate Professor of Public Policy at UMass Dartmouth…
But if an improving real estate market can be correlated to an improving economy, Chapin Fish is optimistic.