Local economic pundits are encouraged by the unemployment trends the Twin Counties are showing, particularly the rates from February.
Columbia County had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state in February at 5 percent, according to the state Department of Labor. That is higher than the 4.8 percent rate the county had the same time last year.
“The Columbia County unemployment rate is 5 percent in February, which is among the lowest in the state, and especially low among upstate counties,” Columbia Economic Development Corporation CEO F. Michael Tucker said Thursday. “The 5 percent figure is not seasonally adjusted and a spike each February is common for Columbia County as many industries have more jobs in the summer such as tourism, agribusiness and recreation-related occupations.”
Columbia County had unemployment rates in the summer of 2017 of 3.6 percent in May and June and 3.7 percent in July and August, according to data from the state Department of Labor.
Columbia County’s unemployment rate was under 4 percent through much of the last year, and as low as 3.4 percent, Tucker said.
Greene County had an unemployment rate of 6.4 percent in February which is higher than the 6.2 percent rate the county had the same time last year.
“This number is actually encouraging,” said Greene County Chamber of Commerce President Jeff Friedman. “That means a lot of people are starting to re-enter the workforce; people are more engaged.”
Tucker and Friedman pointed out that there are a lot of job openings still in each of the counties.
“Businesses are trying to hire,” Friedman said. “Greene County jobs grow every month. In January we were in the top two in the state for job growth.”
Greene County had 15,600 non-farm jobs in February, which is 600 more jobs than the county had the same time last year, according to state Department of Labor data.
Columbia County had 21,300 non-farm jobs in February, and increase from the 20,900 jobs the county had at the same time last year.
Columbia-Greene Media, Columbia Economic Development Corporation and the Workforce New York Career Center, which offers employment and training services at Columbia-Greene Community College, are teaming up to hold a job fair at the college April 17 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“Despite low unemployment rates, there are still many job openings as evidenced by the dozens of employers hiring at the job fair, and there are still many local people out of work looking for a job,” Tucker said. “About 1,700 jobs come up on indeed.com when searching for Columbia County, which includes all jobs within 25 miles.”
The job fair — Twin County Recruitment Expo — will have more than 50 local employers looking to hire workers.
“Job fairs like this one are valuable because they provide a concentrated opportunity for job seekers to speak to many employers face-to-face on the same day,” Tucker said. “This job fair is particularly valuable because the employers are receiving advertising packages from Columbia-Greene Media, which will further raise awareness for job openings in the community.”