Cape Cod Unemployment Falls Nearly 1 Percent in January

BARNSTABLE – The unemployment rate for Cape Cod in January was down almost 1% from a year ago at the same time.

The rate was 6.9% which was down from 7.7% in January of 2017.

“It’s relatively decent numbers,” said David Augustinho, the executive director of the Cape & Islands Workforce Development Board. “Seven percent this time of year for us is not bad at all, not bad at all.”

The month-to-month unemployment was up 2.2% from December.

“I think what it is showing is, partly, that any hiring that would have happened for the Christmas season is over,” Augustinho said. “So we are showing our full unemployment for the period but, relatively speaking, it’s not that bad.”

Augustinho expects the rate to be similar, around 7 or 7.5%, for February.

“Definitely in March we should start to see some improvement,” he said.

Unemployment on Martha’s Vineyard and in Plymouth County were down 0.55% from last year to 8.7 and 4.3% respectively. The rate on Nantucket saw a slight decrease from 11 to 10.9%.

A small labor pool and uncertainty about foreign workers is causing concern about the summer season.

“We’re facing a national administration that is phobic about immigration of any kind, including the visa employees who our employers have counted on for the last several years,” Augustinho said.

Some larger employers were able to get through the process and anticipate H-2B visa workers, according to Augustinho, who expects to also see a reduction of J1 workers.

“I think the outlook is not very good for foreign workers,” he said.

The Workforce Investment Board has been working with the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce to try to locate workers from Puerto Rico, who are citizens and do not require visas.

“We’ve had very limited success with that and perhaps a few more of those could open up and that could help a little bit,” Augustinho said.

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