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21-1786-BOS
Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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County Employment and Wages in Massachusetts – First Quarter 2021

Employment fell in the nine largest counties in Massachusetts from March 2020 to March 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (Large counties are those with annual average employment levels of 75,000 or more in 2020.) Regional Commissioner William J. Sibley noted that Suffolk County and Norfolk County had the largest over-the-year decreases in employment at 8.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

National employment decreased 4.5 percent over the year, with 324 of the 343 largest U.S. counties reporting declines. Calcasieu, LA, had the largest over-the-year decrease in employment with a loss of 14.9 percent. Utah, UT, experienced the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment with a gain of 6.1 percent.

Among the nine largest counties in Massachusetts, employment was highest in Middlesex County (871,300) in March 2021. Within Middlesex County’s private industry, professional and technical services accounted for the largest employment. Together, the nine largest Massachusetts counties accounted for 93.7 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 343 largest counties made up 72.3 percent of total U.S. employment.

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the five counties in Massachusetts with employment below 75,000. Wage levels in the smaller counties were below the national average in the first quarter of 2021. (See table 2.) 

Large County Wage Changes

All nine large Massachusetts counties reported average weekly wage gains from the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. (See chart 2.) Six of these counties had rates of wage gains that were above the national rate of 5.6 percent. Middlesex County had the largest gain (+9.3 percent), followed by Suffolk County (+8.6 percent) and Essex County (+8.1 percent).

Among the 343 largest counties in the United States, 312 had over-the-year wage increases. Nationally, across most industries, increases in average weekly wages reflect substantial employment declines combined with wage increases. The lowest paying industry, leisure and hospitality, had the largest employment loss, which resulted in higher average weekly wages for the industry and the nation. San Francisco, CA, had the largest percentage wage increase (+33.9 percent). Clayton, GA, had the largest over-the-year percentage decrease (-14.2 percent).

Large County Average Weekly Wages

Weekly wages in the 4 of the 9 largest counties in Massachusetts were above the national average of $1,289 in the first quarter of 2021. Average weekly wages in three of these counties ranked among the top 50 nationwide: Suffolk ($2,545, 5th), Middlesex ($2,107, 11th), and Norfolk ($1,462, 47th).

Among the largest U.S. counties, 84 reported average weekly wages above the U.S. average in the first quarter of 2021. New York, NY, had the highest average weekly wage at $3,967. Average weekly wages were below the national average in the remaining 259 counties. At $685 a week, Cameron, TX, had the lowest average weekly wage.

Average Weekly Wages in Massachusetts’ Smaller Counties

Among the five smaller counties in Massachusetts—those with employment below 75,000—Nantucket ($1,284) reported the highest average weekly wage, below the national average of $1,289. Franklin County ($887) reported the lowest average weekly wage in the state.

When all 14 counties in Massachusetts were considered, 2 reported average weekly wages of less than $999, 6 registered wages from $1,000 to $1,199, 2 had wages from $1,200 to $1,299, 1 had wages from $1,300 to $1,399, and 3 had average weekly wages of $1,400 or higher. (See chart 3.)

Additional Statistics and other Information

QCEW data for states have been included in this release in table 3. For additional information about quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit www.bls.gov/cew.

Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. This publication is typically published in September of the following year of the reference period or shortly after the QCEW first quarter full data update. The Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online is available at www.bls.gov/cew/publications/employment-and-wages-annual-averages/.


Technical Note

Average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries of employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing quarterly total wages by the average of the three monthly employment levels of those covered by UI programs. The result is then divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. It is to be noted, therefore, that over-the-year wage changes for geographic areas may reflect shifts in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and such other factors as hours of work. Thus, wages may vary among counties, metropolitan areas, or states for reasons other than changes in the average wage level. Data for all states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), counties, and the nation are available on the BLS web site at www.bls.gov/cew. However, data in QCEW press releases have been revised and may not match the data contained on the Bureau’s web site.

QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual establishment records reflecting the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons–some reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes.

The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual states as well as from the data presented on the BLS web site. These potential differences result from the states’ continuing receipt, review and editing of UI data over time. On the other hand, differences between data in this release and the data found on the BLS web site are the result of adjustments made to improve over-the-year comparisons. Specifically, these adjustments account for administrative (noneconomic) changes such as a correction to a previously reported location or industry classification. Adjusting for these administrative changes allows users to more accurately assess changes of an economic nature (such as a firm moving from one county to another or changing its primary economic activity) over a 12-month period. Currently, adjusted data are available only from BLS press releases.

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Covered employment and wages in the United States and the nine largest counties in Massachusetts, first quarter 2021
Area Establishments,
first quarter 2021
(thousands)
Employment Average weekly wage (1)
March 2021
(thousands)
Percent change,
March 2020–21 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)
First quarter
2021
National ranking
by level (3)
Percent change,
first quarter 2020–21 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)

United States (4)

10,755.4 140,455.8 -4.5 -- $1,289 -- 5.6 --

Massachusetts

271.2 3,334.9 -6.6 -- 1,732 3 7.8 6

Barnstable

9.7 80.7 -5.9 228 1,038 214 4.6 145

Bristol

18.1 210.2 -6.6 262 1,076 183 6.6 70

Essex

28.6 299.0 -6.7 269 1,350 66 8.1 36

Hampden

19.4 195.4 -6.3 248 1,028 222 0.6 306

Middlesex

58.7 871.3 -5.9 228 2,107 11 9.3 22

Norfolk

26.1 320.5 -7.4 293 1,462 47 6.9 62

Plymouth

16.8 179.2 -5.8 225 1,162 136 4.9 129

Suffolk

32.8 642.6 -8.7 317 2,545 5 8.6 26

Worcester

27.3 327.2 -6.5 260 1,235 102 7.3 51

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Percent changes were computed from employment and pay data adjusted for noneconomic county reclassifications.
(3) Ranking does not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(4) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

Table 2. Covered employment and wages in the United States and all counties in Massachusetts, first quarter 2021
Area Employment March 2021 Average weekly wage(1)

United States(1)

140455819 1289

Massachusetts

3334946 1732

Barnstable

80671 1038

Berkshire

53322 998

Bristol

210169 1076

Dukes

6786 1182

Essex

298954 1350

Franklin

24226 887

Hampden

195399 1028

Hampshire

59976 1035

Middlesex

871264 2107

Nantucket

5554 1284

Norfolk

320498 1462

Plymouth

179225 1162

Suffolk

642560 2545

Worcester

327166 1235

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.

NOTE: Includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs. Data are preliminary.

Table 3. Covered employment and wages by state, first quarter 2021
State Establishments,
first quarter 2021
(thousands)
Employment Average weekly wage (1)
March 2021
(thousands)
Percent change,
March 2020–21
First quarter
2021
National ranking
by level
Percent change,
first quarter 2020–21
National ranking
by percent change

United States (2)

10,755.4 140,455.8 -4.5 $1,289 -- 5.6 --

Alabama

135.9 1,924.3 -3.0 996 37 2.5 40

Alaska

23.3 295.0 -5.5 1,125 23 -0.6 48

Arizona

176.5 2,894.2 -2.3 1,150 21 4.8 17

Arkansas

95.3 1,194.2 -2.0 957 43 3.7 30

California

1,651.4 16,507.7 -5.9 1,623 4 11.3 1

Colorado

224.7 2,634.7 -3.5 1,335 10 4.1 25

Connecticut

128.3 1,550.5 -5.4 1,575 5 4.7 19

Delaware

35.2 425.6 -4.1 1,264 13 1.6 44

District of Columbia

44.0 708.1 -9.0 2,166 1 8.7 4

Florida

780.8 8,701.9 -3.1 1,104 24 5.1 13

Georgia

329.2 4,393.8 -2.6 1,198 17 3.6 33

Hawaii

48.0 564.4 -14.1 1,091 26 5.7 9

Idaho

74.2 768.6 1.9 906 50 4.9 15

Illinois

390.0 5,559.6 -5.5 1,387 8 6.7 7

Indiana

176.2 2,956.4 -2.5 1,026 34 3.3 37

Iowa

105.1 1,473.6 -3.3 1,004 35 2.6 39

Kansas

90.4 1,335.4 -3.3 986 39 1.9 43

Kentucky

130.7 1,835.2 -2.5 965 41 2.3 42

Louisiana

141.5 1,787.6 -5.9 977 40 1.0 46

Maine

56.2 585.0 -2.8 1,000 36 4.7 19

Maryland

174.3 2,522.1 -5.0 1,386 9 8.5 5

Massachusetts

271.2 3,334.9 -6.6 1,732 3 7.8 6

Michigan

267.5 4,026.6 -5.9 1,155 20 4.8 17

Minnesota

189.7 2,695.4 -5.1 1,290 11 4.6 22

Mississippi

75.3 1,098.4 -2.5 811 51 1.1 45

Missouri

221.8 2,705.5 -3.0 1,055 30 3.7 30

Montana

53.2 465.2 0.1 915 48 5.4 10

Nebraska

73.4 944.7 -2.8 990 38 3.6 33

Nevada

92.8 1,291.5 -8.4 1,080 27 4.7 19

New Hampshire

56.8 631.8 -3.9 1,258 15 5.4 10

New Jersey

297.0 3,818.6 -5.5 1,533 7 5.3 12

New Mexico

65.2 774.5 -7.4 958 42 3.8 28

New York

664.6 8,587.8 -8.7 1,869 2 10.4 2

North Carolina

302.7 4,423.2 -1.7 1,137 22 4.1 25

North Dakota

32.3 388.7 -6.1 1,037 32 -0.9 51

Ohio

310.1 5,136.8 -3.9 1,098 25 3.3 37

Oklahoma

114.4 1,549.7 -3.7 939 46 -0.8 50

Oregon

169.4 1,841.9 -5.2 1,172 18 6.4 8

Pennsylvania

369.7 5,531.3 -5.4 1,226 16 4.3 23

Rhode Island

41.2 447.8 -5.6 1,171 19 3.4 35

South Carolina

150.1 2,056.2 -2.6 957 43 3.8 28

South Dakota

35.6 417.1 -0.9 932 47 3.4 35

Tennessee

180.2 2,968.7 -2.1 1,077 28 5.0 14

Texas

750.1 12,216.7 -3.4 1,261 14 2.4 41

Utah

117.3 1,548.8 1.5 1,065 29 3.7 30

Vermont

27.0 283.7 -6.9 1,028 33 4.9 15

Virginia

291.3 3,765.8 -3.9 1,285 12 4.2 24

Washington

261.2 3,252.0 -5.1 1,540 6 9.1 3

West Virginia

52.3 648.6 -3.8 911 49 0.8 47

Wisconsin

183.1 2,730.0 -3.7 1,047 31 3.9 27

Wyoming

27.8 255.9 -4.6 953 45 -0.6 48

Puerto Rico

47.1 856.5 -3.1 562 (3) 2.0 (3)

Virgin Islands

3.6 34.7 -14.0 961 (3) -8.0 (3)

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(3) Data not included in the national ranking.

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

 

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2021