Albany

Jobless claims top 61,000 across Capital Region amid COVID-19 crisis

Total represents 1 in 8 employed in January, and probably falls short of actual number
Hoffman’s Carwash off Route 30 in Amsterdam March 24, closed due to closures from COVID-19
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Hoffman’s Carwash off Route 30 in Amsterdam March 24, closed due to closures from COVID-19

Categories: Business, Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News, Saratoga County, Schenectady County

ALBANY — Since the COVID-19 crisis gripped New York in mid-March, 61,715 people have filed for unemployment insurance in the seven-county Capital Region.

That’s 12.8% of the 480,800 people whom the state Department of Labor tallied as employed in those seven counties in January.

Individually, as much as 16.5% of the workforce in each county filed for unemployment; given that these counties were starting from a baseline of 4% to 6% jobless in January, the unemployment rates is likely now above 20% in some Capital Region counties.

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Also, uncounted thousands of Capital Region residents are unemployed now but not counted in the totals, as they either didn’t file for unemployment benefits or attempted to file but were unsuccessful because Department of Labor systems were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of claims and technical glitches in handling them.

The Department of Labor released data Thursday tallying individual counties’ numbers from March 15 through April 25. The start roughly coincides with Gov. Andrew Cuomo shutting down much of the economy to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 1.64 million unemployment claims have been submitted statewide since the crisis began.

Here is a breakdown of Capital Region counties, with number employed in January, number of jobless claims since March 15, and the percentage of the January workforce submitting claims:

  • Albany 153,800 16,857 11%
  • Fulton 21,700 3,150 14.5%
  • Montgomery 21,400 3,535 16.5%
  • Rensselaer 79,100 9,506 12%
  • Saratoga 116,500 15,878 13.6%
  • Schenectady 74,100 11,317 15.3%
  • Schoharie 14,200 1,472 10.4%

Bordering counties, generally smaller and more rural, fared even worse in most cases:

  • Greene 20,200 2,999 14.8%
  • Herkimer 26,500 4,101 15.5%
  • Otsego 26,400 2,919 11.1%
  • Warren 29,500 5,219 17.7%
  • Washington 26,500 3,822 14.4%

Every one of these counties saw an increase in claims filed the week ended April 25 over the week ending April 18, as a 3,000 person task force created by the Department of Labor resolved technical problems and cleared the backlog of previous applications that had been stalled.

Year over year, comparing the same period of March and April in 2019 and 2020, the Capital Region shows a 1,493% increase in unemployment filings. The hardest-hit region in the state has been Long Island (2,141%); the lightest impact has been in the North Country (902%).

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