Despite strong job gains in the region’s construction industry through stormy winter weather and continued hiring by educational and health services employers, private-sector job growth in the Hudson Valley in January trailed both the state and national rates of job growth from a year ago.
Private-sector employers in the seven-county region added 10,400 jobs in January from a year earlier, a 1.4 percent increase, the state Department of Labor reported. The statewide private-sector job count rose 2 percent during the same period, while the national job count in January rose 2.8 percent.
In the metropolitan Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market area, jobs in the private sector increased 1.5 percent in January over the 12-month period.
Across the Hudson Valley region, unemployment rates rose in January from December, though unemployment claims remained lower at the start of this year than in January last year, according to the Labor Department. There were 60,000 unemployed workers filing benefit claims in the region in January, up from 50,200 in December and down from 68,300 in January 2014.
Putnam County’s 5 percent January unemployment rate was the lowest in the region and the second-lowest in the state, tied with Nassau County. Upstate Tompkins County, at 4.8 percent, was the only county in the state where unemployment fell below 5 percent last month.
Westchester and Rockland counties both had 5.3 percent unemployment rates in January, up from 4.5 percent in the neighboring cross-river counties in December. The two counties had the seventh-lowest unemployment rates in the state.
Dutchess County saw its unemployment rate rise to 5.5 percent at the start of 2015 from 4.6 percent in December, while unemployment in Orange County rose to 5.6 percent of the workforce in January after dropping to 4.7 percent in December. Rural Ulster and Sullivan counties had unemployment rates of 6 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively in January.
Johny Nelson, regional labor market analyst at the state Labor Department in White Plains, said the construction industry – which also includes natural resources and mining companies – netted 2,700 additional jobs in January from a year ago “despite inclement weather conditions.” Nelson said the 6.7 percent increase was the largest-year-to-year gain in that private-sector category for any January since 2007.
Education and health services employers remained the region’s leading job generators in January, Nelson noted, adding 5,300 jobs compared with January last year, a 2.8 percent increase. However, that sector overall had 5,000 fewer jobs in January than in December, a 2.5 percent decrease, the Labor Department reported. Except for some services businesses, private-sector and government employers in the Hudson Valley employed substantially fewer workers in January than in the closing month of 2014, with a net loss of 31,000 jobs in total nonfarm employment, a 3.4 percent decline.
The region’s leisure and hospitality industry shed 1,200 jobs in January from January 2014, and lost 6,100 jobs from the previous holiday-season month of December, a 7.5 percent decrease, according to the Labor Department.
Information jobs in the private sector in January dropped 4.7 percent from the same month in 2014, with 800 fewer jobs. The region’s manufacturing industry also shed 800 jobs in the first month of this year compared with a year ago.