High unemployment persists here

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Monroe County’s unemployment rate in July rose to 13.7 percent, up from 11.9 percent in June and 4.4 percent in July 2019, the latest monthly report from the state Labor Department shows.

It was the highest jobless rate among the six counties in the Rochester region. The rate for the Rochester metro area was 12.9 percent, compared with 11.3 percent in June and 4.3 percent a year earlier.

The unemployment rates elsewhere in the region were Livingston County, 10.4 percent; Ontario County, 11.2 percent; Orleans County, 12.8 percent; Wayne County, 11.3 percent; and Yates County, 9.5 percent.

The persistence of high unemployment after broad reopening of the local economy reflects Rochester’s vulnerability to numerous factors beyond the region’s control. 

Monroe County’s unemployment rate hit 15 percent in April, when New York’s lockdown orders were in full force; the metro rate that month was 14.9 percent.

The Buffalo-Niagara region’s jobless rate in July was 14.1 percent, versus 4.6 percent in July 2019. In Syracuse, the rate was 13 percent, up from 4.3 percent, and the Albany metropolitan area registered a rate of 11.5 percent compared with 3.8 percent a year earlier.

New York’s jobless rate last month was 16 percent, compared with 4.2 percent in July 2019; nationwide, the rate was 10.5 percent, up from 4 percent a year ago.

The Labor Department calculates local area unemployment rates in part using the results of the Current Population Survey, which contacts roughly 3,100 households in New York each month. The data are preliminary.

The department last week reported that the number of private-sector jobs regionwide in July was down 59,400, or 12.9 percent, compared with July 2019. That’s a slight improvement from June, when private-sector jobs in the Rochester region were down 66,000, or 14.2 percent, versus the same month in 2019.

The ranks of the employed grew slightly to 460,800 in July, up from 458,700 in June; the net change compared with June 2019 was minus 38,800, versus a year-over-year net decline of 43,300 in June. However, the number of unemployed increased to 68,500, or 46,200 more than in July 2019, from 58,700 in June, which was 38,300 higher than the June 2019 figure.

On Thursday, the Labor Department released its latest report on weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits. In the Finger Lakes region, initial claims totaled 2,918, up slightly from 2,848 the previous week—but roughly three times the number filed in the same week a year ago. Since mid-March, 183,078 initial jobless claims have been filed, compared with 21,720 in the same period in 2019.

Paul Ericson is Rochester Beacon executive editor.

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