The bitter end of winter has always been a difficult time for seasonal workers on the Islands and Cape Cod, who must stretch their summer pay across long months of joblessness. Unemployment figures, however, traditionally drop in April as businesses begin their annual hiring surge.

Not this year.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics show double-digit unemployment across the state in April, and Dukes County is one of the hardest hit with a rate of 22.6 per cent. Only Nantucket County is higher, with 28.2 per cent.

Barnstable County saw 21.6 per cent unemployment in April and Bristol County 20.3 per cent, with the state’s other 10 counties ranging from 12.3 per cent in Hampshire to 18.1 in Plymouth.

The contrast with 2019 is striking. Last April, the government reported Dukes County unemployment at 5 per cent, Nantucket at 4.5 per cent and Barnstable 4.1 per cent, with other counties ranging from 2.2 per cent in Middlesex to 3.8 in rural Hampden.

This year’s April numbers are historic even when compared to previous economic downturns. Not since the early 2010s has the Dukes County rate climbed into double digits, reaching 10.9 per cent in 2010, 10.5 per cent in 2011 and 10.4 per cent in 2013 as it slowly clawed back gains.

Dukes County also saw more than 10 per cent unemployment in April 1992. The lowest April rate reported for the county by the labor statistics site, which tracks unemployment back to 1990, was 3.5 per cent in 2000 and 2001.