The Capital Region’s labor force inched up to a record high in May, according to statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.
The region’s nonfarm work force last month grew by 100 jobs to 451,200, compared to a year earlier. During the same period, the area’s unemployment rate jumped to 4.8 percent, from 4.4 percent in April and 3.6 percent a year earlier.
However, Labor Department Market Analyst James Ross said May’s unemployment rate spike was likely exaggerated by an unusual increase in youths surveyed.
Ross also noted that May’s new record high job count is not much to celebrate over because labor force levels for the month have been relatively flat for the past four years. The private sector last month also shrunk by 400 jobs to 341,400.
The region’s accommodations and food services and retail trade sectors the bore the brunt of the nation’s economic downturn, as $4-per-gallon gas ate away consumers discretionary funds. Over the year, accommodation and food service shrank by 2,000 jobs to 27,200 while retail trade shed 300, ending the month with 48,800.
Driving growth in May were professional, scientific and technology services plus educational and health services, which increased by 1,300 and 1,100, respectively.