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Pioneer’s new tool, called “COVID Unemployment Tracker,” provides an interactive look at how economic shutdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting jobs and lives across the state of Massachusetts.

Using weekly Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment insurance claim reports and labor force data, Applied Geographic Solutions, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, has created an economic model that estimates up-to-date unemployment rates by Zip code in Massachusetts, and the results are striking. Pioneer’s COVID Unemployment Tracker presents these AGS estimates in graphic form.

The data in this tracker was provided by Applied Geographic Solutions, Inc. (AGS), of Thousand Oaks, California, according to their weekly release including most recent estimates, and is presented with their written authorization. The methodology that AGS used to model this data is described here. Because the federal government does not report unemployment rates by ZIP code or community, and issues unemployment reports on a time-delayed basis, AGS has created an economic model to estimate real-time unemployment by state and municipality using a combination of federal employment sources. In its modeling, AGS uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics labor force by ZIP code and occupation; weekly state-by-state initial jobless claims by occupation; and monthly labor force publications that provide detailed unemployment estimates by state, and major metropolitan areas. AGS says this about its methodology: “On a weekly basis for the next several months, AGS will be creating and making available an updated, rolling weekly unemployment estimate at the block group, ZIP code, and county levels of geography. While we do not pretend to have “on the ground” information to support these estimates, our initial tests on the data to date suggest that our methodology is a reasonable one – we are focusing on the distribution of employment by occupation and using a series of estimates of vulnerability curves to simulate what is being reported at a national and state level.”