January Unemployment Rate Higher Than Prior Year

The January unemployment rate in Chautauqua County has spiked from the year before, according to the New York State Department of Labor.

Preliminary data shows the county with a 7.1 percent jobless rate. That’s up from January 2016 when the county’s unemployment rate stood at 6.5 percent. The figure is slightly lower, however, from January 2015 when it stood at 7.6 percent.

Data from previous years show a trend of high unemployment rates to start out the year. Numbers decrease going into the spring and summer months and rise during the fall and winter months.

John Slenker, state labor analyst, said the January number didn’t surprise him due to the fact 2016 was a good year for jobs. Slenker also said the January unemployment rate is in line with the figure seen two years ago.

“We will keep an eye on it, but it’s nothing to get too worried about,” Slenker said. “There’s a lot of seasonal factors involved here. By January, construction is as low as it gets all year. School is also out for a portion of the month, which means teachers, bus drivers and people who work in lunches are out of work.”

Total nonfarm jobs in Chautauqua County decreased from 50,000 in January 2016 to 49,400 in January of this year. Total private jobs fell from 40,300 in January 2016 to 39,700 this year.

Service providing, private-service providing, transportation and business services were among the industries in the county that saw drops in employment over a one-year period. Employment in manufacturing remained unchanged at 9,200 jobs.

While he was disappointed to see an unemployment spike, County Executive Vince Horrigan said he’s confident it will come down going forward as past trends have shown.

“When I look ahead with Athenex, Fieldbrook Foods, Castelli and other manufacturers doing well, we’re definitely on the right track,” Horrigan said.

In the city of Jamestown, preliminary data shows an unemployment rate of 7.7 percent for January. That’s up from January 2016 when the jobless figure stood at 6.6 percent. However, the number is lower than the 8.1 percent unemployment rate seen in January 2015.

The state’s unemployment rate went from 4.8 percent to 4.6 percent in January — the lowest since June 2007, according to the Labor Department. Cattaraugus County’s unemployment rate was 7.3 percent for January while Erie County’s jobless figure stood at 5.5 percent.

Statewide, the Labor Department said the private sector job count increased by 28,500, or .4 percent, to 8,035,600. Since the end of the state’s recession in late 2009, the Labor Department said New York added more than one million private sector jobs.

“The state’s labor market continued to expand in January. Not only did the statewide economy reach a new record high of more than 8 million private sector jobs, but our state’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in a decade,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, deputy director for the state Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.