In just another perplexing economic development, the state reported Thursday that the Capital Region last month experienced its highest August unemployment rate since 1992, even as more people were employed here than any other August on record.
The region’s non-farm work force over the year added 1,400 jobs to its ranks, ending August with 448,700 workers. During the same period, the region’s unemployment rate rose to 5 percent, which was unchanged from July but up from 3.7 percent in August 2007. Last month’s rate is the highest rate for the month since August 1992’s reading of 5.4 percent, which came in the wake of a national recession.
“The perception is the economy is much weaker than it really is,” said state Labor Department Market Analyst James Ross.
Despite the housing market slump, Wall Street turbulence and $4-per-gallon gas, the local labor market chugged along with the help of its technology, education and health services sectors. Over the year, the professional, scientific and technological sector grew by 1,700 to 30,000 while education and health services grew by 2,100 to 78,700.
Meanwhile, summer turned out to be a bummer for area restaurants and hotels as their work force fell to its lowest level since 2001. The accommodations and food services sector in August shrank to 36,600, down 1,900 from a year earlier.
Retail trade also suffered as consumers cutback on spending, as the sector over the year shed 400 jobs, ending August with 10,200. Reflecting the housing slump, the natural resources, mining and construction sector exhibited flat growth at 20,100 jobs.
“It’s pretty much [businesses] are going to hold their own until they see where things are going. There’s uncertainty in the business community,” said William Brigham, director of the Small Business Development Center at the University at Albany.