Capital Region

Albany metro area labor force growing to pre-pandemic levels

Morrissey’s Lodge and Bistro server Kat Fousek, Skidmore senior from Rhinecliff, serves cocktails to Angela LeCrichia, of St. James, Long Island, and mother Debbie LeCrichia, before they attend the Morgan Wallens concert at SPAC, on Broadway in Saratoga Springs on July 7.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Morrissey’s Lodge and Bistro server Kat Fousek, Skidmore senior from Rhinecliff, serves cocktails to Angela LeCrichia, of St. James, Long Island, and mother Debbie LeCrichia, before they attend the Morgan Wallens concert at SPAC, on Broadway in Saratoga Springs on July 7.

ALBANY — The Albany metro area labor force in June reached its highest level in almost three years, indicating more residents are working or seeking work after sitting out the pandemic.

The state Department of Labor reported Tuesday that the unemployment rate was still strikingly low in June 2022 — 3.0%, compared with 4.8% in June 2021 and 9.1% in June 2020.

But an estimated 461,400 people were employed or unemployed but seeking employment, the most for any June since 2018.

Statewide, the labor force has not shown a similar degree of recovery: 9.9 million New Yorkers were working or actively seeking employment in June 2019, and the number has been smaller each June since, standing at 9.56 million in 2022.

Kevin Alexander, Capital Region labor market analyst for the DOL, said the Capital Region’s population growth and its concentration of stable employment sectors such as education, government and healthcare could be a factor in the difference.

The data within regions of the state are generated by a statistical regression model specified by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and based on a small sample, so granular details about who is doing what jobs aren’t available. 

“Whether it stems from inflation, COVID-19, or other reasons, the growth these past two months could be a sign of younger workers participating and/or people more willing to take on seasonal jobs this summer,” Alexander said.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy Metropolitan Statistical Area is Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties.

It has been posting very low unemployment rates in recent months, including a 2.6% jobless rate in December 2021 — the lowest recorded there in any month in the nearly one-third of a century the current record-keeping system has been used.

In June 2022, Saratoga County’s 2.6% unemployment rate tied it with Columbia and Yates counties for lowest jobless rate in the state.

The jobless rates released Tuesday are not adjusted for seasonal differences, so December and June for example cannot directly be compared.

The jobless rates also don’t factor in the number of working-age people who chose or were forced by circumstance to drop out of the labor force.

Only 431,300 people were working in the Albany metro area in December 2021, while 447,800 were employed in June 2022. The number of people not employed but actively seeking work was much closer — 11,500 in December and 13,600 in June.

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