Unemployment has dropped in the city, county and state, according to figures from May released by the state labor department Thursday.
The City of Lockport reported 8.2 percent unemployment last month, a decrease from the 9.2 percent it saw in April and the 10.2 percent it saw in May 2009. Unemployment also dropped in May locally, down to 8.3 percent in Niagara County from 9 percent in April and to 7.6 percent in the Buffalo Niagara Falls metropolitan area, down from 7.8 percent in April.
New York state’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in May, down from 8.4 percent in April and 8.4 percent in May 2009. Nationally unemployment is down to 9.7 percent last month, lower than the 9.9 percent in April.
There were some good signs in the employment figures for May, said John Slenker, a Western New York state labor market analyst. The number of unemployed New Yorkers also dropped in May, to 806,600 down from 817,100 in April.
“For the first time in the past year and a half, we’re seeing a positive number of jobs over a yearly period,” Slenker said.
The total nonfarm job count in New York grew by 21,000, but that was due to a spike in temporary census workers in the state, which boosted the number of federal jobs to 30,100 in May. The nonfarm job count tracks all jobs in the private and public sectors. It does not count the self-employed or workers on farms.
In the Niagara Falls Buffalo area, 1,600 jobs were added, which was mostly census work. Slenker said without it, the job count broke even, meaning the number of jobs remained at the same 537,000 level from May 2009. In the county, the job count did the same, staying at about 103,000. The number of those unemployed in Niagara County dropped to 9,400 in May, less than the 10,200 in April.
However, people should remain “cautiously optimistic,” Slenker said. New York still lost 9,500 private sector jobs in May, the state’s first monthly decline since December 2009. Manufacturing and construction sectors are still weak, Slenker said.
“Like the nation as a whole, the state’s rate of private sector job growth slowed in May 2010. However, New York’s unemployment rate continued to improve, reaching its lowest level in over a year,” said Peter Neenan, the state’s director of the Division of Research and Statistics.
Slenker said New York should see the normal bump in employment for the summer, but businesses are still waiting for a more stable economy before hiring. The third and fourth quarters of 2010 will reveal how we’re really doing, Slenker said.
Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.