Jobless rate reaches low of 8.2%

John Zick

The unemployment rate in Steuben County reached a near-three-year low in October, but it remains among the worst in the state.

Steuben County’s October unemployment rate was 8.2 percent, its lowest since December 2008 when it was 8.1 percent. In the 33 months in between, the county’s unemployment rate was above 9 percent 28 times, including 11 months when it was at or above 10 percent.

While the numbers seem to suggest a reason for cautious optimism, Steuben County’s recent improvement in unemployment hasn’t been enough to move it from the bottom 20 percent of the state. Its October unemployment rate was 10th worst out of New York’s 62 counties.

“Steuben has been tracking at (one of) the highest rates throughout the Southern Tier Region since the onset of the current recession – an indication as to the deep impact of it upon the region,” labor analyst Christian Harris said. “The impact (is) still being felt significantly in the western portion of the county, related to the railcar industry. Other portions of the county are experiencing some slow and continued improvement and growth, but until the entire county finds firm/sound economic footing, the statistics will remain unsatisfactory.”

Schuyler County’s October unemployment rate of 6.6 percent was down from 6.7 percent in September. Chemung County’s rate of 7.3 percent in October was down from 7.6 in September.

Both counties’ unemployment rates increased in September after being down in August.

The fluctuations were “fairly consistent with typical seasonal pattern,” Harris said. “Schools coming into session improve the August statistics, a winding down of leisure and construction-related (outdoor) businesses in September softens the statistics, and then holiday hiring perks it up a bit in October and November.”

Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben had a combined unemployment rate of 7.7 in October, down from 7.9 percent in October.