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 2020, the unemployment rate in Berks County was 9.5%. This was similar to Pennsylvania as a whole, at 9.1%, but higher than the nation, at 8.1%. Berks County's unemployment rate started at a low of 3.9% in 2000 and peaked at 8.7% in 2009. The county's unemployment rate has declined over the last few years until 2020.

Berks County's 2020 unemployment rate was higher than neighboring Chester (6.4%), Lancaster (7.5%), Lebanon (7.9%), Montgomery (7.6%) and Schuylkill (9.2%) counties, but slightly lower than Lehigh (9.6%).

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. Data for this indicator are expected to be released in the second quarter.

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%3.9%3.7%8.1%
Berks County4.0%4.7%5.9%6.0%5.2%4.9%4.5%4.4%5.4%8.7%8.4%7.7%7.5%6.9%5.6%5.0%4.9%4.7%4.3%4.4%9.5%
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County3.1%3.4%4.0%4.1%3.7%3.7%3.4%3.2%3.9%6.2%6.0%5.6%5.5%5.1%4.2%3.9%3.8%3.7%3.3%3.2%6.4%
Lancaster County2.8%3.4%3.9%4.1%3.8%3.7%3.6%3.5%4.3%7.1%7.3%6.7%6.4%5.8%4.7%4.2%4.1%3.9%3.5%3.5%7.5%
Lebanon County3.2%3.6%4.2%4.3%4.0%3.6%3.5%3.6%4.2%6.6%7.2%6.8%6.5%6.0%5.0%4.6%4.4%4.2%3.9%4.0%7.9%
Lehigh County3.7%4.4%5.6%5.7%5.3%4.9%4.7%4.6%5.6%8.6%8.9%8.5%8.3%7.6%6.1%5.4%5.3%5.1%4.8%4.6%9.6%
Montgomery County3.2%3.7%4.6%4.6%4.2%3.9%3.7%3.6%4.3%6.8%6.7%6.3%6.2%5.7%4.7%4.2%4.1%3.9%3.6%3.6%7.6%
Schuylkill County5.9%6.5%6.9%7.1%6.8%5.9%5.5%5.2%6.2%9.8%10.3%9.6%9.5%8.9%7.2%6.4%6.1%5.9%5.4%5.5%9.2%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Total Unemployed
United States5,692,0006,801,0008,378,0008,774,0008,149,0007,591,0007,001,0007,078,0008,924,00014,265,00014,825,00013,747,00012,506,00011,460,0009,617,0008,296,0007,751,0006,982,0006,314,0006,001,00012,947,000
Berks County7,7579,35311,65411,47310,1959,7589,0078,93011,06917,63617,64216,13615,83914,52411,71110,68210,5089,9389,1989,59520,043
Berks County Regions
Reading city
Berks County Peers
Chester County7,2878,2249,94010,1899,3159,4028,9898,65510,77516,58616,26515,23014,99413,94011,51810,75210,75810,2659,3009,35818,035
Lancaster County7,1628,73810,12510,66510,1089,8349,5879,54511,70819,26019,40717,85117,12715,71012,70911,56111,44310,8939,92510,05621,118
Lebanon County2,0602,3772,8022,8572,7402,5342,4632,5853,0534,8345,0594,7294,6244,2423,5153,2323,1332,9692,7912,8885,703
Lehigh County6,0237,3209,3449,5178,9098,4498,1458,01510,09215,33415,74415,15815,14413,83711,23210,08710,0059,6609,1218,94118,308
Montgomery County13,06515,54919,29619,18117,44416,50215,63415,46518,93428,71928,87427,23627,01024,62720,54618,67018,32817,57416,07416,38134,036
Schuylkill County4,1624,5674,8164,9214,7224,1673,9703,8194,6447,2377,2486,6916,7466,2304,9334,3714,1373,9303,5443,6826,107

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Adults Who are Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in K-6 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Students in 7-12 Overweight or Obese Not Applicable
Physically Inactive Adults Not Applicable
Students Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Lunch Increasing
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 Decreasing
Live Births to Teen Mothers Decreasing
Population by Age Not Applicable
Children with Elevated Blood Lead Levels Maintaining
Change in Population by Age and Gender Not Applicable
Change in Total Population by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Households by type Not Applicable
Foreign-Born Population Increasing
Seniors Living Alone Maintaining
Language Diversity Increasing
Unemployment Rate Increasing
Change in Labor Force Decreasing
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 County/Region for Work Not Applicable
Public Assistance Maintaining
Spending for Local Governments Maintaining
Spending for Counties Maintaining
Spending for School Districts Maintaining
Prekindergarten Participation Increasing
English Language Learners Increasing
Students Receiving Special Education Services Increasing
Per Student Spending Maintaining
High School Cohort Graduation Rate Increasing
Education Levels of Adults Not Applicable
Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Brain Drain/Gain Maintaining
Plans of High School Graduates Not Applicable
Enrollment in Local Colleges Decreasing
Median Household Income Maintaining
Median Household Income by Household Type Not Applicable
Living Wage Not Applicable
People Living in Poverty Increasing
Working Poor Maintaining
People Receiving Federal Food Assistance Increasing
People Receiving Supplemental Security Income Increasing
Health Status Not Applicable
People Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Increasing
People Without Health Insurance Decreasing
Cancer Incidence Decreasing
Prevalence of Mental Illness Maintaining
Vacant Housing Units Increasing
Homeownership Rates Decreasing
Cost of Homeownership Maintaining
Cost of Homeownership, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Cost of Rent Increasing
Cost of Rent, by Race/Ethnicity Not Applicable
Single-Family Home Sales Increasing
Median Single-Family Home Sale Price Maintaining
Tourism Spending Maintaining
Voter Registration Rate Decreasing
Voter Participation Rate Decreasing
Average Charitable Giving Maintaining
Contributions as a Percentage of Income Maintaining
Households With Internet Access Not Applicable
Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments Maintaining
Toxic Chemical Releases Decreasing
Violent Crimes Maintaining
Property Crimes Decreasing
Incarceration Rates Maintaining
Drug Abuse Offenses Increasing
Drug Abuse Arrests Increasing
Protection from Domestic Abuse Maintaining
Average Travel Time to Work Increasing
Crashes Involving Alcohol Decreasing
Households Without Vehicles Decreasing