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Berkshire Chamber
The chamber's going to announce its new youth leadership program on Friday morning. We'll be there to report the event but we can tell you it will include a partnership with Berkshire Community College that will allow program graduates to earn college credits.

The Pittsfield Co-operative Bank is offering an incentive for start-ups that do business with them — a free one-year membership in the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce. The partnership's goal is to promote chamber membership and economic growth.

"It's not enough to be a willing and well-capitalized lender for our customers, it's tremendously important that we're also building relationships as a financial partner, contributing to the economic and social vitality of the Berkshire community," says bank President Jay Anderson. To learn more about the chamber and its programs, visit www.berkshirechamber.com.

Southern Berkshire Chamber
The next Business After Hours event is Thursday, Feb. 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington. RSVP to Joy at visitor@southernberkshirechamber.com or 413-528-1510.

Chamber members will be also be receiving a survey on future programs and membership benefits. Filling it out will help the chamber better serve its members.

Lenox Chamber

The following members have been elected to serve the Chamber of Commerce for a one-year term as officers: President Ken Fowler, Shear Design; Vice President Bob Romeo, Franklin Street Reality; Secretary Jim Terry, Villager Gifts; Treasurer Judy Culver, Purple Plume

The following members have been nominated to serve the chamber for three-year terms as board members: Dawn Carberry, Berkshire Coupon; Dawn Ramsey-Jacobsson, Cranwell; Peggy Roethel, Garden Gables Inn and Joel Catalano, Apple Tree Inn.

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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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