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Rochester sees job gains

New York State Department of Labor

January marked the eighth consecutive month that employment levels in the Rochester area where above the level they were at the previous year.

Private sector employment in the nine-county Finger Lakes Region grew by 5,000 over January 2010, according to statistics released Wednesday by the New York State Department of Labor.

The Rochester unemployment rate was 8.7 percent in January, compared with 7.8 percent in December and 9.2 percent for January 2010. The Upstate unemployment rate was 9.2 percent for January 2011 and 9.5 percent for January 2011.

“The numbers indicate that the area job market has begun to turn around,” said Tammy Marino, associate economist for the region, who is headquartered in Rochester. “We’re still not back to where we were before the recession began, but we are beginning to see some positive gains. The pace of hiring has picked up in recent months. More people are going back to work.”

Marino said the largest gains were in the professional and business services group which includes the legal profession. That sector gained 2,100 jobs from a year ago. She said the legal field is expected to remain stable.

Other gainers were educational services, which added 1,500 jobs in the past year and health care, which was up 1,400.

Marino said the unemployment rate for the Rochester area declined by 0.5 percent.

“It’s still high, but we’re also fairing better than the rest of the nation,” she said. “Nationally, the unemployment rate is 9.4 percent.”

Statewide, the private sector added 95,100 jobs from the start of the state’s economic recovery in December 2009 through December 2010. That was 24,500 more than initially estimated.

The new data also show New York’s private sector lost 335,300 jobs in the state’s recession, which lasted from April 2008 to December 2009. This means the state lost 17,400 fewer jobs during the downturn than first estimated.

Between 2009 and 2010, New York state’s annual average private sector job count grew by 11,500 — or 0.2 percent — to 7,043,400. In contrast, private sector jobs in the U.S. dropped by 0.8 percent. At the same time, total non-farm jobs, including government, in New York state fell by 2,400 or less than 0.1 percent, to 8.55 million while the national number dropped by 0.8 percent.

“Our revised data show that New York lost fewer jobs in the recession than we first estimated,” said Rod Fortran, bureau chief for Labor Market Information, Division of Research and Statistics. “We also added more jobs during the current recovery than earlier calculated. Our state’s economy outperformed the nation with stronger job growth and a lower unemployment rate in 2010.”

Jobs data are revised at the end of each year for all states and the nation as more complete information comes in from Unemployment Insurance tax records. The process is called “benchmarking.”

Jobs data back to April 2009 were revised. March 2010 is called the “reference month.” Data for March 2010 and earlier will not change. Estimates for April 2010 and later may yet change during the next round of annual revisions in early 2012.

Monthly labor force data, including unemployment rates, are also revised at the end of each year, using methods set by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. After revision, the annual statewide unemployment rate grew from 8.4 percent in 2009 to 8.6 percent in 2010 — the state’s highest annual level since 1992.

However, the statewide rate was still lower than the comparable rate in the nation in 2010 (9.6 percent). The revised data also show that the number of unemployed in New York State climbed — from 813,300 in 2009 to 824,100 in 2010. This is the highest statewide level on record, going back to 1976.

Job data for metropolitan areas: 2009 to 2010

Job growth in the state in 2010 was centered in New York City, which saw both its total non-farm and private sector job counts increase between 2009 and 2010. In contrast, both the suburban downstate counties and the 52-county Upstate region experienced declines in their total non-farm and private sector job counts in 2010.

Among the state’s 13 metro areas, private sector job growth in 2010 was most rapid in Ithaca (+1.3 percent), New York City (+0.8 percent) and Glens Falls (+0.5 percent).

Rochester gained 0.1 percent in both non-farm and private sector jobs from 2008-09 to 2009-10. Private sector jobs were up 1.2 percent in January, compared with January 2010, while non-farm jobs saw a 0.8 percent gain.

Private sector job declines were most pronounced in Binghamton (-2.2 percent), Albany-Schenectady-Troy (-1 percent), Syracuse (-0.9 percent), Putnam-Rockland-Westchester (-0.6 percent), and Utica-Rome (-0.6 percent).