Fiscal Year 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issues the Labor Surplus Area (LSA) list on a fiscal year basis. The list becomes effective each October 1, and remains in effect through the following September 30.

The LSA qualifying unemployment rate is 20% above the national (Puerto Rico included) annual average unemployment rate for the two-year reference period. The reference period used in preparing the current list is January 2017 through December 2018. The national average unemployment rate during this period is rounded to 4.34%. Twenty percent higher than the national unemployment rate during this period is rounded to 5.21%. Since 5.21% is below the "floor unemployment rate" of 6.00%, a civil jurisdiction must have a two-year unemployment rate of 6.00% in order to be classified a LSA.

There is an "Exceptional Circumstance Consideration Provision" that allows a civil jurisdiction to ask for inclusion in the LSA list after it is published. Events like Hurricane Dorian and other natural disasters and adverse economic changes, like a major plant closing, within a civil jurisdiction or metropolitan area allow states to ask for inclusion on the LSA list. A detailed explanation of the "Exceptional Circumstance Consideration Provision" is given in the "Related Link" section of this webpage, "Frequently Asked Questions" link, Item 5, "Can an area be added to the Labor Surplus List if that area's unemployment rate was below the qualifying unemployment rate for the referenced period?"

For areas meeting the "Exceptional Circumstance Consideration Provision" requirement, submit a request, signed by the head of the state's Workforce Agency and a list of the area(s) whose unemployment rate is expected to exceed 6.00%, to Samuel Wright at

The LSA list is an Excel file with a filter that allows the user to filter the list by state(s) and/or area type(s). In order to use the filter, the LSA Excel file has to be downloaded and saved to your computer. The following link gives instructions on how to use the filter feature of an Excel file.

Please direct all inquiries concerning the LSA list to Samuel Wright at or 202-693-2870.

Description of Labor Surplus Areas

A Labor Surplus Area (LSA) is a civil jurisdiction that has a civilian average annual unemployment rate during the previous two calendar years of 20% or more above the average annual civilian unemployment rate for all states during the same 24-month reference period. Only official unemployment estimates provided to ETA by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are used in making these classifications. The average unemployment rate for all states includes data for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The basic LSA classification criteria include a "floor unemployment rate." A civil jurisdiction must have an unemployment rate of 6.0% or higher to be classified a LSA and a "ceiling unemployment rate" (10.0%). Any civil jurisdiction that has an unemployment rate of 10% or higher is classified a LSA.


  1. A city of at least 25,000 population on the basis of the most recently available estimates from the Bureau of the Census; or
  2. A town or township in the States of Michigan, New Jersey, New York, or Pennsylvania of 25,000 or more population and which possess powers and functions similar to those of cities; or
  3. A county, except those counties which contain any type of civil jurisdictions defined in A or B above and a county in the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; or
  4. A "balance of county" consisting of a county less any component cities and townships identified in paragraphs A or B above; or
  5. A county equivalent which is a town (with a population of at least 25,000) in the New England States or a municipio in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


The classification procedures also provide for the designation of LSAs under exceptional circumstance criteria. These procedures permit the regular classification criteria to be waived when an area experiences a significant increase in unemployment which is not temporary or seasonal and which was not reflected in the data for the two-year reference period. Under the program's exceptional circumstance procedures, LSA classifications can be made for civil jurisdictions, Metropolitan Statistical Areas or Combined Statistical Areas, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget. In order for an area to be classified as a LSA under the exceptional circumstance criteria, the state workforce agency must submit a petition requesting such classification to the Department of Labor's ETA. The current criteria for an exceptional circumstance classification are: an area's unemployment rate is at least the LSA qualifying rate for each of the three most recent months; a projected unemployment rate of at least the LSA qualifying rate for each of the next 12 months; and documentation (a list of the areas with the average unemployment rate of three most recent months) that the exceptional circumstance event has already occurred. The state workforce agency may file petitions on behalf of civil jurisdictions, as well as Metropolitan Statistical Areas or Micropolitan Statistical Areas. The addresses of state workforce agencies are available on ETA's website at State Workforce Agencies may submit petitions in electronic format to, or in hard copy to the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Workforce Investment, 200 Constitution Ave NW, Room C-4510, Washington, DC 20210. Attention Samuel Wright.