State jobless rate drops sharply in February

New York's unemployment rate dropped by one-half percentage point from January to February, but stil

The technology and government sectors helped keep the Capital Region’s work force afloat last month as the nation’s economy sunk further into what looks like a recession, according to statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The region’s non-farm workforce in February grew by 500 jobs or 0.1 percent to 442,000, compared to a year earlier. But without state government’s labor gains, the private work force shrunk by 0.2 percent.

Unemployment figures

To view unemployment statistics for the entire state and individual regions and counties for February, click here.

February’s private sector loss casts doubt on the assertion that the region is largely immune to national recessions because of its significant level of government employment.

“We’re not bucking the trend of a recession. We’re still being impacted by that,” said Labor Department Market Analyst James Ross.

The region’s unemployment rate continued its upward climb, reaching 5.1 percent in February.

The region’s economy continued to show signs of weakness with only two of its nine major labor sectors growing in February. The professional and business services sector, which includes technology and corporate managerial workers, grew by 900 jobs, or 1.7 percent, to 53,800. Government grew by 1,000 jobs, or 0.9 percent, to 109,900.

Schoharie County maintained the state’s highest unemployment rate at 8.8 percent. But the county’s spike was attributed to the small size of its labor pool. The county shed 200 jobs over the year, bringing its February total to 14,700.

“It’s a small county. So a small difference in jobs is going to have a big difference in the unemployment rate,” said Ross.

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