The good news is Chautauqua County's unemployment rate went down in February. The bad news is that it only went down .1 percent.
On Thursday, the state Labor Department released unemployment data for the month of February with the county decreasing the number of unemployed workers by 100, going from 6,600 in January to 6,500. However, the number of unemployed workers this year is still quite a bit higher than the number was in February 2009, when there was only 5,900. The unemployment rate in the county was also lower last year at 8.8 percent instead of the 9.9 percent that was recorded in February.
More good news is that officials at the state Labor Department said the increasing unemployment rate has leveled off. According to its most recent employment report, the state's economy gained 8,100 private-sector jobs, a .1 percent increase, in February. State officials said this was the state's second straight monthly increase. The state's total nonfarm job count also increased by 5,800, a .1 percent increase, in February as well. The nonfarm job count measures total employment in the private and public sectors. It excludes the self-employed and workers in private households and agriculture.
The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 8.8 percent last month. The number of unemployed state residents decreased slightly, from 851,400 in January to 845,100 in February.
The state's private-sector job count peaked in April 2008. Since then, the state has lost 321,900 jobs. That is about 80 percent of the net jobs added between 2003 and 2008.
'New York state's labor market continues to improve. We've now added jobs for two consecutive months and the state's unemployment rate has leveled off,' said Peter A. Neenan, state Research and Statistics Division director. 'However, following previous recessions, it has taken the state about five years, on average, to regain all of the jobs lost during a downturn.'
For individual job sectors, education and health services added the most jobs with an increase of 21,100 during the last year. Leisure and hospitality was the only other job sector to add jobs in the last year with an increase of 10,800. As far as decreases, the trade, transportation and utilities sector lost the most with a loss of 39,400 jobs during the last year. Since last February, manufacturing also decreased in jobs by 35,100. Construction jobs fell by 33,400 since last year with losses also seen in government, professional and business services, financial activities, information, other services and natural resources and mining.
At the national level, the unemployment rate decreased by .2 percent going from 10.6 in January to 10.4 in February.