Counties with the highest unemployment in Massachusetts

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May 3, 2024
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Counties with the highest unemployment in Massachusetts

While today's unemployment rates are significantly lower than the COVID-19 pandemic peak of 14.7% experienced in April 2020, the fear of job losses remains as workers stare down an uncertain economic future.

Stacker compiled a list of counties with the highest unemployment rates in Massachusetts using Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Counties are ranked by their preliminary unemployment rate in March 2024, with initial ties broken by the number of unemployed people within that county, though some ties may remain. County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Experts have mixed views of a potential recession. The return of student loan payments, continually high gas prices, persistent inflation, and insurance price escalations are just a few of the factors that could limit consumer spending and potentially prompt another recession.

The last economic recession before the pandemic—the Great Recession of 2007-09—sent unemployment rates up to 10% as of October 2009, and a full recovery took years.

But as of April 2024, the national unemployment rate remains relatively low at 3.9%—up slightly from the previous month. Regional and state employment varies widely depending on local economies. Seasonally adjusted unemployment rates by state demonstrate a rather sizable spectrum, ranging from just 2% in North Dakota to 5.3% in California.

Read on to see the counties with the highest unemployment in Massachusetts.

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#14. Franklin County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.0%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.3 percentage points
- Total labor force: 40,370 people (1,211 unemployed)

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#13. Hampshire County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.0%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 89,977 people (2,738 unemployed)

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#12. Middlesex County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.0%
--- 1-month change: No change
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 931,471 people (27,643 unemployed)

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#11. Norfolk County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.1%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 401,781 people (12,516 unemployed)

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#10. Suffolk County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.2%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Up 0.1 percentage points
- Total labor force: 462,707 people (14,656 unemployed)

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#9. Worcester County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.6%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 451,149 people (16,344 unemployed)

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#8. Plymouth County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.7%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 288,091 people (10,770 unemployed)

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#7. Essex County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.7%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 431,452 people (15,854 unemployed)

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#6. Berkshire County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 3.9%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.1 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.5 percentage points
- Total labor force: 62,707 people (2,441 unemployed)

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#5. Hampden County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.4%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.2 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.2 percentage points
- Total labor force: 224,874 people (9,857 unemployed)

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#4. Bristol County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 4.4%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.3 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.5 percentage points
- Total labor force: 304,061 people (13,439 unemployed)

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#3. Barnstable County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 5.3%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.5 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.7 percentage points
- Total labor force: 111,543 people (5,928 unemployed)

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#2. Dukes County

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 6.9%
--- 1-month change: Down 0.5 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 8,765 people (603 unemployed)

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#1. Nantucket County/town

- February unemployment rate (preliminary): 11.8%
--- 1-month change: Down 1.9 percentage points
--- 1-year change: Down 0.4 percentage points
- Total labor force: 7,238 people (857 unemployed)

This story features data reporting by Paxtyn Merten and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 50 states.

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