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 city5.4%7.3%8.8%8.8%7.9%7.7%6.7%6.6%8.1%12.7%13.0%12.5%12.1%10.9%8.7%7.6%7.4%7.3%
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 city1,8342,5033,0162,9192,5992,5532,2262,1762,7394,2774,5064,3584,2063,7702,9862,5982,5282,476
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 Increasing
Children Living in Poverty Increasing
Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Single-Parent Families Increasing
Single-Parent Families by Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Disengaged Youth Maintaining
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Change in Population by Age and Gender Maintaining
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Increasing
Population by Age and Race/Ethnicity Decreasing
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Maintaining
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
Employment to Population ratio Maintaining
Change in Jobs by Sector Not Applicable
Sector Share of Total Jobs Not Applicable
Average Salary by Sector Not Applicable
Change in Average Salary Since 2000 Increasing
People Entering/Leaving County/Region for Work Increasing
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Quality Early Childhood Centers Not Applicable
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 English Decreasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 3 Math Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 English Increasing
Historically Underperforming Student Performance on Grade 8 Math Decreasing
Student Performance on High School English Decreasing
Student Performance on High School Math Increasing
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Maintaining
Brain Drain/Gain Increasing
Plans of High School Graduates Increasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Maintaining
Living Wage Maintaining
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Increasing
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Increasing
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Housing Affordability for Homeowners Maintaining
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 Decreasing
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Increasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Increasing
Dams Not Applicable
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Means of Transportation to Work Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing