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Falling Behind

Unemployment drops, but local counties lose ground

December 24, 2011
By MIKE ZUMMO , The Leader Herald

The nation's unemployment rate dropped to levels not seen in two years last month.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the nation's unemployment dropped to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest it has been since March 2009, when it also hit 8.6 percent.

Statewide, the November unemployment rate rose a tick to 8 percent from October's rate of 7.9 percent. However, November's rate is down from 8.3 percent in November 2010.

Article Photos

A Walmart employee pushes carts at the store Thursday. According to Jobs Express, a jobs board through the New York State Department of Labor, Walmart has the most vacancies of any company with a presence in Fulton and Montgomery counties.

The Leader-Herald/Mike Zummo

The rate rose in all three area counties - Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton - from October, but dropped from November 2010.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, Fulton and Montgomery counties have lost ground on neighboring counties.

"This time of year, you see losses in the construction field and gains in the retail trade with the Christmas shopping season going on," said Mark Barbano, a job market analyst for the state Department of Labor.

Fulton County had a November unemployment rate of 9.4 percent, up from 9 percent in October, but down from the 10.1 percent rate of a year ago. Montgomery County had a rate of 8.8 percent last month, up from 8.5 percent in October but down from 9.3 percent in November 2010.

Last year, Fulton County had the fifth-highest unemployment rate of the state's 62 counties. This year, it is fourth.

Montgomery County also fell behind. It had the 12th- highest unemployment rate in the state in November 2010, and this year it has the seventh highest.

"Although the rate is down, nothing has changed because the rate is down statewide," Barbano said.

According to the Labor Department, New York added 34,400 jobs in the private sector last month, which Bohdan M. Wynnyk, deputy director of the division of research and statistics, said is the largest monthly gain in two years.

The Labor Department attributes the rise in unemployment from October to the addition of 9,900 people to the statewide work force as more people started looking for work.

Most of those gains came in the professional and business services sector, which added 35,700 jobs since November 2010. Educational and health services had the second-largest gain (27,700 jobs), while leisure and entertainment (21,600 jobs) was third.

Government and manufacturing continued to shed jobs.

There is help for those looking for jobs through the Labor Department, which has a regional jobs bank called Jobs Express linked to its website.

It features postings for the 10 regions of the state. Fulton and Montgomery counties are in the Mohawk Valley region, while Hamilton County - which had an unemployment rate of 9.2 percent in November, down from 10.4 percent in November 2010 - is in the North Country.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were nearly 1,200 jobs posted in the six-county region.

According to data, Walmart, which has a presence in Fulton and Montgomery counties, had the highest number of openings.

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



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