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January 10. 2013 8:14PM

Monthly jobless rates climb in the North Country

BERLIN - The unemployment rates in economic hubs in the North Country were up for November over October, but those rates are still lower than November 2011.

After dipping down to 7.3 percent in October, the Berlin area's unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent. The rate had steadily declined since January 2012, when it reached a peak of 9.4 percent. In November 2011, the rate was 8.1 percent.

Colebrook's rate saw a similar jump, with the rate for the labor market area that includes bordering Vermont going from 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent. That statistic can leave a false impression though, as in November the Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau reported 220 unemployed in a labor force of 2,980, and in October, with the labor force at 3,130, 200 local residents were unemployed.

In November 2011, Colebrook LMA (NH &VT), was 6.6 percent, but with a labor force of 3,360, that still meant 220 were unemployed.

The unemployment rate peaked in April 2012, at 9.5 percent, or 310 residents out of a labor force of 3,600.

Coos County had a rate of 7.1 percent in November, with a labor force of 15,250. A year ago, the county's labor force was 15,340, and the rate was 7 percent. In February and March 2012, it was 8.5 percent.

"On the whole, we are seeing your usual construction and tourist related layoffs as would be expected," said Mark Belanger, manager of the Employment Security offices in Berlin. "No doubt things remain tough in Colebrook since the closure of the Balsams. Never mind that they have never fully recovered from the closure of Ethan Allen. A good job is hard to come by and many people have to travel long distances to find gainful employment. While I know the issue of extending Federal Unemployment (EUC) is polarizing, I am very grateful that the program is there for those who truly need it."

Carroll County's November rate was 5.3 percent, and Grafton County's was 4.4 percent.

The Conway NH-ME LMA November rate was 5.7 percent, an increase of .7 percent from October, but a .01 percent lower than November 2011 rate of 5.8 percent. The seasonal nature of the region's economy is reflected in the fluctuations in the size of its labor force. In November that figure was 17,920, down from the year-high in August of 20,920. The year's high was 6.6 percent in February 2012, when 1,220 out of a labor force of 18,400 were counted as unemployed.

In the Littleton NH-VT LMA, November's rate was 5 percent out of a labor force of 14,260. In November 2011, the rate was 5.3 percent. The high in 2012 was 6 percent in February. In the Littleton area, the work force grew over the year, with 14,260 in November 2012, and 13,810 in November 2011.

Statewide, the rate in November was 5.4 percent, up from an October low of 5.2 percent.


syoungknox@newstote.com

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