The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) annually publishes its labor surplus area (LSA) listing.  ETA designates LSAs annually, effective each October 1st, with periodic updates to designate additional LSAs for areas that qualify under special circumstances.

A labor surplus area (LSA) is a statutorily-defined locality that (with some exceptions) has experienced an unemployment rate that is 20% higher than the national average for prior 2 years used as the reference period. 

The list of LSAs includes hundreds of localities, and is organized by state.  For each state, there are names of the designated LSA (in alphabetical order on the list). There also is a notation about the county within which the LSA resides.

About the Fiscal Year Lists of Labor Surplus Areas

The national average unemployment rate (including Puerto Rico) during each Federal fiscal year (FY) period is calculated.  Unemployment rates twenty percent higher than the national unemployment rate would be to the nearest hundredth of a percent.  

Areas included on the FY LSA list have a rounded unemployment rate for the reference period.  The Fiscal Year (FY)  Labor Surplus Area Classifications remain in effect from October 1st through September 30th - this is the reference period for the full Federal fiscal year. 

To ensure that all areas classified as labor surplus meet the requirements, when a city is part of a county and meets the unemployment qualifier as a LSA, that city is identified in the LSA list.  The balance of county, not the entire county, will be identified as an LSA, if the balance of county also meets the LSA unemployment criteria.

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Designation of an LSA under the Exceptional Circumstances Criteria

If an area did not make this year's LSA list, and is currently experiencing an unemployment rate at or above the qualifying unemployment rate, it may be eligible to be added to this year's LSA list through an exceptional circumstance petition.

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 2-year reference period.

The Benefit of Knowing Whether Your Community is an LSA

Some Federal, state and local programs use LSA designations to determine eligibility for programs, so your state or locality may be able to benefit from understanding whether your areas qualify as an LSA.

If your community is facing high unemployment, you may be able to qualify for Federal, state or local funding.  Check the LSA website to see whether your community is on this list.