ALBANY — Capital Region unemployment rates remained steady over the last year, according to a new state report.
According to statistics from the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) regarding regional unemployment numbers in December, Schenectady County recorded a 2.8% rate in December, down from three percent at the same time last year.
The statewide unemployment rate in December was 3.8%, with all figures not seasonally adjusted to reflect seasonal influences including holiday season hires.
In Fulton County, the unemployment rate remained steady at 3.7% year-over-year.
“Seeing it stay stable over a year I think is a good thing overall,” Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said on Wednesday. “We like to see that. Obviously, if unemployment is up dramatically it’s a challenge. But I think we’re in a whole new arena right now. Everyone, both public and private sector, is having a great deal of difficulty recruiting. People don’t seem to want to work as much as maybe they used to. The workforce is smaller and a lot of people have left the workforce. So I think that’s a positive to maintain that level at a fairly low level. So that’s good news.”
Montgomery County recorded a four percent unemployment rate in December, up from 3.7% at the end of 2021.
“Historically, during my lifetime, it’s been seven, eight or nine percent,” Montgomery County Legislature Chair Robert Purtell said on Wednesday. “So it’s hard to complain about a four-percent unemployment rate.”
The Capital Region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell slightly from 2.6% in December 2021 to last month’s 2.5% figure.
“It’s remained steady, which is not necessarily positive or negative,” DOL Capital Region Market Analyst Kevin Alexander said on Wednesday. “It’s just been the status quo moving along. There hasn’t been much change in the unemployment rate. There’s still historically low unemployment rates. The issue remains the same as it’s been the last couple of years with the labor force declining from where we were pre-pandemic. So there’s still a lot of room to grow there in the labor force and recovering the jobs we lost.”
Purtell said that Montgomery County hopes to attract new businesses in 2023 to assist in driving down unemployment.
“From an economic development standpoint, we’re always looking for new employers,” he said. “Either better employers or new employers to our area.”
Stead noted that local retailers reported strong business over the holiday shopping period in the last two months of 2022.
“I heard anecdotally that people in the Fulton County area were pleasantly surprised that sales and what they had expected for sales were pretty positive, even compared to last year,” he said. “Obviously after COVID, we’ve seen a huge uptick in online sales, but I think people felt that local retailers in the bi-county region did pretty well this last cycle.”
Alexander, who noted that the four percent unemployment recorded in Montgomery County is still considered low for the area despite being slightly higher than the 3.8% statewide number, said that the size of the labor force would be a key determining factor in the unemployment rate in 2023.
“The labor force is the driving force we’re seeing locally here when it comes to the unemployment rate,” he said. “The pool of available workers is what’s really driving the potential change that we’re seeing in the coming months and years. That available workforce to fill the open jobs that are still out there.”
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