For a second consecutive month, the Capital Region’s labor market contracted in July, according to statistics released today by the state Department of Labor.
During what is traditionally one of the region’s peak employment months, the local nonfarm work force ended July with 446,700 jobs, down 600 or 0.1 percent from a year earlier. Last month’s job losses kicked the region’s unemployment rate to 5 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from June. In July 2007, that rate was 4.1 percent.
Battered by high gasoline prices and poor weather, area restaurateurs and hoteliers continued to slam the brakes on hiring during their busiest season. The accommodations and food services sector over the year shed 1,900 jobs, ending July with 27,600.
Also reflecting how high gas and food prices are crimping consumer spending, the retail trade sector over the year shrunk by 700 jobs to 48,900.
Partially offsetting July’s losses, the local labor market received an 800-job boost over the year from state government. The professional, scientific and technical services sector continued to become a larger player in the labor market, growing over the year by 1,600 jobs to 30,000. Educational and health services added the same amount of jobs during that period, totaling 78,500.
In the coming months, state government will likely play a smaller role in propping up the labor market because of a hiring freeze Gov. David Paterson announced late last month. In July, the state had 53,200 jobs regionwide, unchanged from June.
“The idea is the state numbers will go down,” said James Ross, a market analyst for the state Labor Department.
Ross said it is hard to tell how much July’s wet weather affected hiring. During peak building season, the natural resources, mining and construction sector reported flat year-over growth last month at 20,000.
Although the rain last month was incessant, it was not as bad as a year earlier, At Albany International Airport in Colonie, 6.94 inches of rain fell last month, compared to 7.03 inches a year earlier. There were 13 days of measurable rain last month, compared to 14 in July 2007, according to the National Weather Service.