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Unemployment rate for region increases to 5.2%

Unemployment rate for region increases to 5.2%

The Capital Region’s job count climbed to a record for September, but its unemployment rate for the

The Capital Region’s job count climbed to a record for September, but its unemployment rate for the month also reached a 13-year high, according to statistics released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

Even as some of the region’s job growth engines lost steam, its nonfarm work force over the year grew by 400 jobs to 449,500. During the same period, the unemployment rate rose to 5.2 percent from 3.8 percent. Last month’s rate was 0.2 point up from August and the highest it’s been for September since 1995.

Despite September’s record job growth, two surveys of businesses statewide released earlier this week suggest economic conditions could worsen in upstate.

The Albany area’s government/education and health services sectors — traditionally major local job creation drivers — showed softer growth last month. Over the year, they added 900 and 100 jobs, respectively. At the same time, losses in the manufacturing and financial activities sectors, which have been bleeding jobs, showed narrower losses. They shrunk by 400 and 300 jobs, respectively.

“We’re seeing a little weakness in our stronger industries and a little strength in our weaker industries,” said Labor Department Market Analyst James Ross.

The professional, scientific and technical services sector continued to offset losses as other job growth engines stalled. Over the year, the sector grew by 1,700 jobs to 29,600.

Even though the region largely avoided a job purge stemming from Wall Street’s financial crisis, the economic outlook is dimmer for small businesses and manufacturers. Only 5 percent of small business owners surveyed between late August and early October said they viewed New York’s economy as “good,” compared with 38 percent last year, according to a survey by the Support Services Alliance, an Oneida trade organization that represents 13,000 small businesses.

With Gov. David Paterson projecting an $8 billion shortfall in the state budget for the next fiscal year, small businesses fear taxes will rise and further hamper their working environment. Ninety-two percent of SSA members said they expect New York’s economy will worsen of the next five years, compared with 54 percent in 2007.

“What we’re seeing is the opportunity being lost for growth instead of jobs going away,” said SSA Vice President of Membership Services Christopher Koetzle.

The Federal Reserve Bank’s Buffalo branch earlier this week reported record lows in its monthly Empire State Manufacturing Survey. In October, New York manufacturers’ index for general business conditions fell 17 points to the record low of 24.6. The new orders index also hit an all-time low.

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