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Pittsfield Gains Jobs But Unemployment Still Up

Tammy Daniels

BOSTON — The state's unemployment rate went up from November to December (8.3 to 91) but Pittsfield was one of three areas to see an increase in the work force and showed the highest over-the-month percentage increase in jobs.

However, the area's unemployment rate (not seasonly adjusted) jumped nearly a point, from 8.0 to 8.9 percent. In December 2008, the rate was 6.5 percent. The number of jobless increased by nearly 400, to 3,404. In the North Adams area, the jobless rate rose fro 9.1 to 10.2 percent.

The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported that unemployment rates were higher in December than in November in all of the commonwealth's 22 labor-market areas. Statewide, the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate increased from 8.3 percent in November to 9.1 percent in December.

Job gains were recorded in three of the twelve areas for which unadjusted job estimates were published. In addition to Pittsfield, the Framingham and Springfield areas added jobs. Over the year, all of the labor areas recorded increases in unemployment rates and job losses.

Statewide the seasonally adjusted December 2009 unemployment rate, released last week, rose from 8.7 percent in November to 9.4 percent in December. Statewide, the seasonally adjusted jobs estimate for December showed 8,400 jobs lost over the month. The unadjusted unemployment rates and jobs estimates for the labor markets may show different levels and trends than the statewide seasonally adjusted estimates.

NOTES:  The January 2010 unemployment rate, labor force data and survey of jobs for Massachusetts will be released on March 4, 2010; local unemployment statistics will be released on March 9, 2010.  Detailed labor market information is available at www.mass.gov/lmi. See the January, 2010 Media Advisory annual schedule for complete listing of release dates.

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State's Jobless Rate Rises in December

Staff Reports

BOSTON — The state's jobless rate jumped more than a half percent in December, from 8.7 to 9.4. That's still below the national rate of 10 percent for both November and December, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

Jobs were down 8,400 for the month of December. At 3,164,000, jobs are down 66,200 or 2.0 percent from one year ago.

There's good news, though: manufacturing added 500 jobs last month, the second consecutive monthly jobs gain for this sector. Durable-goods jobs grew by 700, more than offsetting nondurable goods' 200 job loss. Still, manufacturing jobs, which are now at 266,900, are down 14,200 or 5.1 percent from one year ago.

Other sectors adding jobs were education and health services (the largest gain at 1,000, and third monthly consecutive monthly gain for 4,100 jobs since September); government (900); other services (800) and Financial Activities (300).

With 656,600 jobs overall, education and health services is the largest sector in Massachusetts, generating 13,300 jobs over the year.

Trade, transportation and utilities had the sharpest decline with 5,000, the fourth consecutive month of losses. Also showing losses were leisure and hospitality (3,400); construction (1,800); professional, scientific and business services (1,400, wiping out a gain of 1,500 in November), and information (300).

The labor force declined by 22,000 in December, with 43,100 fewer residents employed and 21,100 more residents unemployed. In December, 3,108,600 residents were employed and 323,200 residents were unemployed. At 3,431,800, the labor force was down 800 from December 2008 with 104,300 fewer residents employed and 103,500 more residents unemployed.  

The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households, while the job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers.  As a result, the two statistics may exhibit different trends.

Local area unemployment statistics for December 2009 will be released on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2010. The January 2010 unemployment rate will be released on March 4. Detailed labor market information is available at www.mass.gov/lmi.

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Persnickety Expanding to North Street

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Persnickety is expanding to Pittsfield. One of New England's top toy stores will take over the space being vacated by USBluesware on North Street.

But don't worry, the Eagle Street landmark isn't moving out. "This is my baby right here in North Adams," said owner Monique Suters on Thursday. "We're just starting a new location."

Suters was approached by USBluesware owners Giora Witkowski and Linda Mitchell two years ago about opening a toy store in their downtown building. The women had read about the store, which features educational and interactive toys, when it was selected as the Best Toy Store in New England for 2007-2008 by New England Travel & Life. But Suters said it just wasn't the right time to consider expanding.

USBluesware will close up shop on Feb. 27. The store sold "gently used" high-end clothing and accessories from designers such as Louis Vitton, Armani and Chanel. The Witkowski and Mitchell are ready to retire, they told Rural Intelligence.
They hadn't forgotten their offer to Persnickety a few years before. Suters said her ad in Berkshire Living prompted them to contact her again: This time was the right time.

"We were invited by USBluesware, they sought me out when we won the best toy store in New England," she said. "It was a patient waiting game for them to fill all their retail spaces and retire."

The new space is about 1,400 square feet, said Suters. "Just enough I think to do what we want to do." The store won't be a duplicate of the North Adams Persnickety, she said, but instead it will do its best to reflect the tastes of Pittsfield. It will likely have a larger train selection and will do a customer survey to stock items they want most.

She's excited about the transformation of the Pittsfield's downtown area over the past few years and positive about the store's future there: "No question: it'll be a success."

Suters is shooting for an early April opening. USBluesware, meanwhile, is holding a liquidation sale of up to 75 percent off.
 

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Vietnamese Restaurant Slated for North Adams

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A Vietnamese restaurant will open in the former Branning's on Curran Highway.

John and Nancy Nguyen of North Adams will open the Saigon-Vietnamese restuarant, Pho, at 1280 Curran Highway at Valley Park Lanes. Pho refers to the restaurant's specialty, a Vietnamese beef noodle dish.

The Nguyens appeared before the Planning Board on Monday night, Jan. 11, and were represented by James Sisto. Sisto told the board the hours will be 11 to 11 daily and the workforce will consist of seven to 10 part- and full-time employees, mostly family members.

New paint and carpet and appropriate decor are planned for the space before it opens.

The last two restaurants in the space have been Italian — Breda's and Modena's — but neither lasted more than a few years. The new eatery will include pub fare for bowlers along with its Southeast Asian menu.

The restaurant space is part of the bowling alley, operated by the Soule family as DBD Partners.

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Dunkin's Iced Coffee Contest

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Canton-based Dunkin' Donuts is asking Twitterlovers to describe the icy goodness of its coffees during this frigid New England January.

Dunkin' Donuts sells 250 million cups of iced coffee per year. It's offering gift cards of $50 almost daily through the month in the first annual "Twinter Games," beginning today at twitter.com/DunkinDonuts

Using the hashmarks #3WordsAfterIcedCoffee (Jan. 11-15) three words or fewer; #MyIcedCoffee (Jan. 18-22) and #IcedCoffeeTwitLibs (Jan. 25-29), iced-coffee lovers are asked tell how they like their beverage in three words or fewer or using takes from famous quotes or songs.

Example: My Afternoon Intensification says BargainBecky

Find out more about the promotion and contest rules here, along with a separate contest, YeDDI of the Week on Facebook.

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