Buffalo Niagara's job market strengthened in June, with the unemployment rate dropping to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent a year ago.
The region's number of nonfarm jobs increased 5,100, or 0.9 percent, from a year ago, marking the sixth straight month of regional job growth, according to state Department of Labor data. That included a 2,700-job increase in private sector jobs.
"We've had growth for the past several months, particularly in the private sector, despite ongoing losses in manufacturing," said John Slenker, regional economist for the Labor Department. "So our service side is doing well."
Buffalo Niagara's job gains were fueled by educational and health services, professional and business services and financial activities. Collectively, they accounted for a gain of 6,600 jobs from a year ago.
Manufacturing remained a weak spot for the region, losing 2,500 jobs, or 4 percent, from a year earlier.
Slenker noted that manufacturing jobs make up about 11 percent of the region's total jobs. "Is (manufacturing) still important? Yes, it's still very important, but it doesn't dominate our economy the way it once did," he said.
Recent news items reflected the struggles manufacturing is facing. CSM announced its H.C. Brill Co. plant, which makes bakery ingredients and products, is scheduled to close by the end of next year. And longtime employees of Delphi Corp.'s Lockport plant are facing a sharp wage cut.
Meanwhile, some other industries show promise of growth. Empire Genomics, a Buffalo company that plans to market genetic tests, recently outlined plans to create 60 jobs over five years.
Brian Manley, technical recruiting manager for EGW Associates, a staffing firm based in Buffalo, said demand for people with engineering backgrounds has been running consistently strong.
"We have seen historical low unemployment in the technical field in the past two years," he said. Mechanical design engineers and production supervisors, to name a couple of jobs, are highly sought after, he said.
Among metro areas in the state, Buffalo's job growth rate trailed those of New York City, Albany and Elmira, but was ahead of the rates reported for Syracuse, Rochester and Long Island.