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Unemployment Increases Even As Economy Recovers

Unemployment ticked up slightly from May to June in Chautauqua County, rising from 5.4% to 5.7%.

And, while the 5.7% unemployment rate for June 2021 is a far cry from the 11.6% unemployment rate in June 2020, it’s also still higher than pre-pandemic levels (4.1% in June 2019). The county’s labor force also remains lower than pre-pandemic levels (52,700 in June 2021 compared to 54,500 in June 2019) and is actually lower than the June 2020 mark during the pandemic of 53,100 workers.

The number of employed workers has increased over the past month from 48,700 to 49,600 as employment slowly rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The recovery has not reached pre-pandemic levels when measured in terms of the number of people employed, which was 52,200 in Chautauqua County in 2019.

See ECONOMY, Page A3

Lastly, there were 3,000 unemployed Chautauqua County residents in June, 200 more than in May. And, while the number of unemployed has decreased sharply compared to a year ago (3,000 in June 2021 compared to 6,200 in June 2020), the number of unemployed county residents is still higher than June 2019 (2,200).

Chautauqua County’s situation is in line with national trends, including the slight increase in unemployment at a time when many businesses can’t find people to fill open positions.

Some Americans are delaying their job search owing to lingering health concerns, difficulty making child care arrangements or generous, though temporary, federal unemployment benefits. Others have decided to retire early or train for new careers.

“It’s only a question of time before hiring catches up with buoyant labor demand,” said Lydia Boussour, senior U.S. economist at Oxford Economics told The Associated Press earlier this month. “The economy is set for a jobs boom in the coming months as labor supply constraints gradually dissipate.”

The Associated Press also reported on what the hot labor market means for the monthly labor statistics. In June, 942,000 people were unemployed across the United States because they voluntarily left their old employer. That was up 21% from 778,000 in May, and it’s the highest such monthly figure since 2016.

“Workers clearly know that they are in the driver’s seat right now, and many appear willing to walk away from their current position before they have even a new job lined up,” says Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.

In an earlier report, the Labor Department had reported that 4 million workers quit their jobs in April. That was the highest such figure on records dating to 2000.

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