Hudson Valley jobless rate up; labor force swells
The economic recovery in Westchester, Rockland and the Hudson Valley hit a pothole in May as the unemployment rate ticked higher, reflecting the crush of job seekers.
In Westchester County, the jobless rate was 7.2 percent in May versus 6.5 percent in the year-ago period, according to data released Tuesday by the New York State Department of Labor. The numbers, which are not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, also moved up from 6.7 percent in April.
For Rockland, the story was similar, with May unemployment at 7 percent compared with 6.6 percent in April and 6.1 percent a year ago.
Christy Caridi, director of the Marist College Bureau of Economic Research, said that the jobless rate is rising because the economy is not growing fast enough to accommodate the surging numbers of job seekers.
"You're seeing a slight increase in employment, but a larger increase in the labor force," she said.
The rule of thumb, Caridi said, is that the economy has to grow at about 2.5 percent to keep the labor force constant. That is far faster than the 1.9 percent growth estimate for U.S. real gross domestic product in the first quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
In 2011, New York State's GDP grew a paltry 1.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent the prior year.
The nonfarm unemployment numbers only count workers who are actively seeking employment and not the discouraged unemployed who have stopped looking.
Putnam County's 6.8 percent unemployment rate, though higher than the 6.5 percent recorded in 2011, was the second-lowest rate in the state behind Tompkins County. The third-lowest was Rockland. Westchester was tied with Nassau County for the sixth-lowest.
Two New York City counties, Bronx (at 12.8 percent) and Brooklyn (at 10.3 percent), had the highest and fourth-highest unemployment rates respectively.
Orange County notched an 8.3 percent rate in May, up from 7.5 percent the year before.
Dutchess and Ulster counties both saw increases in their jobless rates of about a full percentage point.
Ulster's rate climbed from 7.8 percent in the 2011 period to 8.8 percent in May, while Dutchess' rate went from 7.3 percent in May 2011 to 8.2 percent.
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Hudson Valley region
The May 2012 unemployment rate for the Hudson Valley region is 7.6 percent. That is up from 7.2 percent in April 2012 and also up from 6.9 percent in May 2011. In May 2012, there were 86,200 unemployed in the region, up from 80,200 in April 2012 and up from 76,700 in May 2011.
Three of the top seven counties in New York State with the lowest unemployment rates in May 2012 were in the region:
Tompkins County, 6.4 percent
Putnam County, 6.8 percent
Rockland County, 7.0 percent
Yates County, 7.0 percent
Saratoga County, 7.1 percent
Nassau County, 7.2 percent
Westchester County, 7.2 percent