Unemployment Rate

Unemployment Rate

What does this measure?

Unemployed individuals are those without jobs who are able, available and actively seeking work. The unemployment rate is the number of unemployed people as a percentage of the total labor force (the total number of employed and unemployed individuals 16 or older and not living in prisons, mental hospitals or nursing homes).

Why is this important?

Unemployment rates are a relatively timely indicator of current local economic conditions - particularly recent changes in the employment landscape that reflect the overall health of the economy.

How is our region doing?

In 2017, the unemployment rate in Berks County was 4.6%. This was 0.3 percentage points lower than Pennsylvania as a whole, at 4.9%, and similar to the nation, at 4.4%. From 2000 to 2017, the county's unemployment rate increased 0.7 percentage points, compared to 0.8 points statewide and 0.4 points nationally. Over the 18-year period, Berks County's unemployment rate started at a low of 3.9% in 2000 and peaked at 8.7% in 2009 and 2010.

Berks County's 2017 unemployment rate was higher than neighboring Chester (3.6%), Lancaster (3.8%), Lebanon (4.1%) and Montgomery counties (3.9%), but lower than Lehigh (5.0%) and Schuylkill (5.9%).

Notes about the data

The unemployment rate represents only those who are actively seeking employment and does not account for under-employment or discouraged workers who have stopped looking for jobs. Also, county-level estimates are based on relatively small samples, and the true number of unemployed residents may vary considerably from the estimate. The rates reported here are averages of monthly rates. 2017 data for this indicator are expected to be released in the second quarter of 2018.

There may be additional research available on this topic. Click on Reports and Resources to learn more.

Unemployment Rate
United States4.0%4.7%5.8%6.0%5.5%5.1%4.6%4.6%5.8%9.3%9.6%8.9%8.1%7.4%6.2%5.3%4.9%4.4%
Berks County3.9%4.8%6.0%5.9%5.2%4.9%4.4%4.2%5.3%8.7%8.7%7.9%7.7%7.1%5.5%4.9%5.0%4.6%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County3.0%3.4%4.1%4.1%3.7%3.6%3.3%3.1%3.9%6.2%6.2%5.8%5.6%5.3%4.2%3.8%3.9%3.6%
Lancaster County2.8%3.4%3.9%4.1%3.9%3.7%3.5%3.4%4.3%7.2%7.5%6.9%6.5%6.0%4.6%4.1%4.1%3.8%
Lebanon County3.1%3.6%4.2%4.3%4.0%3.6%3.4%3.5%4.2%6.7%7.5%6.9%6.7%6.2%5.0%4.5%4.5%4.1%
Lehigh County3.6%4.4%5.7%5.7%5.3%4.9%4.6%4.4%5.6%8.7%9.2%8.6%8.5%7.8%6.1%5.3%5.3%5.0%
Montgomery County3.1%3.7%4.6%4.5%4.2%3.9%3.6%3.5%4.3%6.8%6.9%6.5%6.4%5.9%4.7%4.2%4.1%3.9%
Schuylkill County5.8%6.5%7.0%7.1%6.8%5.9%5.4%5.0%6.2%9.9%10.6%9.8%9.7%9.2%7.1%6.3%6.2%5.9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total Unemployed
United States5,692,0006,801,0008,378,0008,774,0008,149,0007,591,0007,001,0007,078,0008,924,00014,265,00014,825,00013,747,00012,506,00011,460,0009,617,0008,296,0007,751,0006,982,000
Berks County7,5979,37911,81711,43710,2739,6978,7838,62111,03817,79618,23016,57316,23315,07211,58910,48410,5999,773
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County7,1348,24910,07910,1539,3869,3448,7668,35710,74716,73916,84115,59215,35314,44811,39010,55610,86710,083
Lancaster County7,0148,76410,26610,62910,1869,7739,3509,21611,67719,43820,08918,27017,53416,28312,57611,35511,55710,703
Lebanon County2,0182,3842,8412,8472,7612,5192,4022,4963,0454,8785,2364,8334,7314,3973,4763,1733,1642,915
Lehigh County5,8997,3409,4739,4848,9778,3977,9437,73710,05515,47816,28415,52115,51114,34811,1099,90910,1059,487
Montgomery County12,79515,59419,56519,11317,57616,39915,24514,93018,88328,98229,89327,95227,69625,53520,33118,35318,53817,320
Schuylkill County4,0784,5794,8824,9064,7584,1413,8723,6864,6307,3037,4926,8336,9066,4604,8894,2884,1703,886

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Early Prenatal Care Increasing
Early Prenatal Care by Mother's Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Increasing
Employment to Population Ratio Decreasing
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
People Entering/Leaving Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Increasing
Local Government Spending Increasing
County Government Spending Decreasing
School District Spending Increasing
Quality Early Childhood Centers Increasing
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Increasing
Student Performance on Grade 3 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 English Not Applicable
Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Not Applicable
Student Performance on High School Reading Increasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Median Household Income Decreasing
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage by Household Type Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
Health Status Decreasing
Managed Medicaid Enrollment Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Physically Inactive Adults Maintaining
Adults Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Children Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Youth Who Are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Vacant Housing Units Not Applicable
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Housing Affordability for Renters Increasing
Housing Affordability for Renters by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Age of Housing Stock Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Maintaining
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Increasing
Tourism Spending Decreasing
Voter Registration Rate Increasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Increasing
Charitable Contributions as a Percentage of Income Increasing
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Decreasing
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Decreasing
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Not Applicable
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing