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Retail Declines

Jobs falling since recession

November 6, 2011
By MIKE ZUMMO , The Leader Herald

New York state's retail sector has been shedding jobs since the onset of the Great Recession in September 2007.

Most of the area has seen the same trend, with only Montgomery County showing improvement over the past four years.

Since the onset of the recession, the state shed 14,400 jobs in the retail sector, ranking it 31st in job growth for that industry. However, that number is tempered by its percentage change of 1.6 percent over the past four years.

Article Photos

Walmart is shown in the town of Johnstown on Thursday. Although jobs in the retail sector have been declining for four years, Walmart has recently posted with Workforce Solutions a recruiting drive for 80 customer-service employees in Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties for the holiday season.

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

According to the state Department of Labor, the unemployment rates in Fulton and Montgomery counties is higher than 9 percent. Fulton County has the highest unemployment of any New York county outside of New York City at 9.5 percent for September, unchanged from last year. Only the Bronx is higher at 12.5 percent.

Montgomery County's unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent in September, up from 9 percent at the same time last year. Hamilton County's unemployment is down to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent last year.

According to figures provided by Mark Barbano of the Labor Department, retail jobs in Fulton County hit a six-year high in 2008 of 2,351 before declining. During the first quarter of 2009, the county dropped below 2,300 retail jobs before hitting 2,080 during the first quarter of this year.

The results were similar in Hamilton County, which had 204 retail jobs in the first quarter of 2007. Before bottoming out in 2010 (171 jobs), the county had a slight rebound to 178.

The only county to show level numbers was Montgomery County, which has been enjoying a retail boom with the recent opening of Kohl's and the opening of Target and other stores in the Amsterdam Commons since 2009.

Montgomery County hit its six-year employment high in 2009's first quarter, several months after Target opened, with 2,614 retail employees. The number dropped to 2,590 last year, but the county picked up five more jobs this year.

Something else that could work against the job-loss trend is that this time of year, the retail industry usually looks for extra help with the approach of the holiday shopping season.

For the second straight year, Walmart is going through Staffworks to fulfill its employment needs for the holiday season. According to a flier posted on the Workforce Solutions website, the company is looking to fill 80 customer-service positions during the holiday season.

Right now, according to the Labor Department, several positions in the retail industry are in high demand. Positions that are being sought after include cashiers, retail supervisors and managers for individual stores, sales people and stock people and order fillers.

The department also projects to add 17,980 jobs, a 2 percent increase. The state had 895,940 jobs in 2010, and the total is projected for 913,920 for next year.

Gail Breen, executive director for Fulton-Montgomery-Schoharie Workforce Solutions, could not be reached for comment.

Mike Zummo is the business editor. He can be reached at



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