Capital Region

Capital Region jobless ranks surpass 76,000 as COVID-19 crisis continues

Statewide, 2.04 million have sought unemployment benefits amid COVID-19 shutdown
A drive-thru food distribution event in Schuylerville Thursday
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A drive-thru food distribution event in Schuylerville Thursday

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

ALBANY — Across the seven-county Capital Region, 76,297 people have filed for unemployment insurance since mid-March, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down large parts of the state’s economy amid the worsening COVID-19 crisis.

That’s 15.9% of the 480,800 people whom the state Department of Labor tallied as employed in the seven counties in January.

Given that these counties were starting from a baseline of 4% to 6% jobless in January, the unemployment rate is now above 20% in some Capital Region counties.

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.

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The Department of Labor released data Thursday tallying unemployment claims filed in individual counties from mid-March, when the COVID-19 crisis began to grip New York in earnest, through May 9.

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

  • Albany 153,800 20,995 13.7%
  • Fulton 21,700 3,901 18.0%
  • Montgomery 21,400 4,368 20.4%
  • Rensselaer 79,100 11,710 14.8%
  • Saratoga 116,500 19,342 16.6%
  • Schenectady 74,100 14,120 19.1%
  • Schoharie 14,200 1,861 13.1%
  • N.Y. State 9.14M 2.04M 22.3%

Every one of these counties and the state as a whole saw an increase in claims filed the week ended May 9 over the week ending May 2, as a task force created by the Department of Labor resolved technical problems and cleared the backlog of earlier applications.

The Department of Labor announced Wednesday that $7.4 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid to New Yorkers since March. This compares with $2.1 billion in all of 2019.

It also said that in just over a month, more that 330,000 New Yorkers were approved for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which provides benefits to gig workers, contractors, the self-employed and others who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor also announced Wednesday that during the pandemic crisis it will stop penalizing people who knowingly claim more unemployment benefits than they are eligible to receive.

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