Local
9:00 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Labor expert weighs in on drop in Buffalo Niagara unemployment

There is some promising news on the unemployment front in our region.  The New York State Labor Department says the unemployment for Buffalo Niagara dropped to 7.4%. The rate is lower than the state and national unemployment rates.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked to a local labor expert about this drop.

"It's fantastic news, and I think part of the reason can be attributed to the high numbers of manufacturing jobs that as a percentage of jobs in Buffalo," said Arthur Wheaton, Director, Western NY Labor and Environmental Programs at Cornell International Labor Relations School in Buffalo.

Wheaton tells WBFO the new unemployment numbers are attributed to an increase from traditional auto manufacturing and the region's emerging new manufacturing sector.

Inside GM's Tonawanda Engine plant.
Credit WBFO News file photo
New high-tech manufacturing in Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News file photo

"It's not just the big names that add jobs in the area, there's a lot of smaller companies that do parts and products related to the auto industry. So the auto industry has been increasing its sales from a low of a few years ago to go over close to $15-million this year, so there is a nice trickle down effect," said Wheaton. "And I think Buffalo has also been able to expand in the Medical Corridor and a strong, college education workforce has helped as well."

Wheaton said he believes this might be  a trend that could last.

"I'm optimistic. I think that we will continue to see more people get jobs and we will see the unemployment rate go down, but that doesn't mean that we are going to have full employment very soon, but I think there's a lot of positive signs in the economy," noted Wheaton.

The Buffalo Niagara jobless rate is also at a six-year low for the month of June.  But the 7.4% rate is still higher than the numbers we experienced before the Great Recession hit.

Still Wheaton said the Buffalo region's "secret of good living" is helping spur a better economy, improving the business climate, and attracting new companies to the area.

The following is what the State Labor Department released on job numbers:

Preliminary local area unemployment rates for June 2013, which are calculated following procedures prescribed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's unemployment rate relies in part on the results of a telephone survey of 3,100 households (out of more than 7 million) in New York State.

The state's private sector job count increased by 110,500 from June 2012 to June 2013. As reported last week, the state's unemployment rate was 7.5% in June 2013.

 

June
2013*

June
2012

 

Local Area Unemployment Rates* (%), June 2012 and June 2013
(not seasonally adjusted)

*Data are preliminary and subject to change

 

Upstate NY (52-co. area)

7.2

8.5

 

Metro Areas

7.1

8.4

 

Albany-Schenectady-Troy

6.4

7.7

 

Binghamton

7.7

8.9

 

Buffalo-Niagara Falls

7.4

8.5

 

Elmira

8.1

8.8

 

Glens Falls

6.3

7.4

 

Ithaca

5.7

7.0

 

Kingston

7.6

9.1

 

Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown

7.1

8.5

 

Rochester

7.0

8.2

 

Syracuse

7.5

8.8

 

Utica-Rome

7.6

8.6

 

Non-metro Counties

7.8

9.0

 

 

Downstate NY (10-co. area)

7.8

8.8

 

New York City

8.7

9.6

 

Suburban Counties

6.1

7.4

 

Nassau-Suffolk

6.1

7.5

 

Putnam-Rockland-Westchester

6.1

7.3

 

  

The data in the table above are not seasonally adjusted, which means they reflect seasonal influences (e.g., holiday and summer hires). Therefore, the most valid comparisons with this type of data are year-to-year comparisons of the same month; for example, June 2012 versus June 2013.

Unemployment rate highlights in June 2013:

  • The counties in New York State with the lowest unemployment rates include:
    • Saratoga County (5.7%)
    • Tompkins County (5.7%)
    • Putnam County (5.8%)
    • Rockland County (5.9%)
    • Yates County (5.9%)
  • The counties in New York State with the highest unemployment rates include:
    • Bronx County (11.8%)
    • St. Lawrence County (9.6%)
    • Kings County (9.4%)
    • Oswego County (9.4%)
    • Lewis County (9.0%)