ALBANY — Unemployment in the Capital Region dropped to an estimated 3.3% in November, the state Department of Labor reported this week, placing it below the national jobless rate and well below the statewide rate.
The lowest county-level rate in the state was 2.8% in Saratoga and Yates counties. Columbia County was right behind at 2.9%.
The unemployment rate and number of unemployed people in the eight-county Capital Region have dropped every month since July, but so has the number of people actually working.
The seeming improvement in the jobless rate is driven in part by people dropping out of the workforce amid the pandemic, which has worsened a pre-pandemic labor shortage and crimped the operation of some businesses.
A person is considered employed in a given month if they worked for money at least one hour in the week in the middle of the month or unemployed if they don’t have a job but are actively seeking work.
The labor force is the total number of employed and unemployed, and in 2021, the Capital Region labor force stood at its lowest November total since 1996.
Across the region, state and nation, many people have been sidelined at home through the pandemic for fear of getting sick or need to care for loved ones. Others have taken early retirement or suffered stress-related burnout.
Another factor — enhanced federal unemployment benefits that made it more lucrative for low- to mid-wage workers to stay home than to work — ended in September.
Here is the labor force size (with jobless rate) in November 2021 for select localities:
|Albany County||153,800 (3.3%)|
|Fulton County||21,600 (4.3%)|
|Montgomery County||21,000 (4.6%)|
|Rensselaer County||79,100 (3.3%)|
|Saratoga County||116,200 (2.8%)|
|Schenectady County||74,800 (3.7%)|
|Schoharie County||14,000 (3.4%)|
|Capital Region||528,800 (3.3%)|
|Mohawk Valley||206,000 (4.5%)|
Among the individual counties listed, Schenectady County saw the least shrinkage in its workforce from November 2019, before the pandemic, to November 2021: 1.6%.
Montgomery County saw the largest estimated shrinkage, 5.4%.