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Local jobless rate increases to 5.3 percent in November

The unemployment rate in Buffalo Niagara and nearly every other region of the state increased in November.

The local jobless rate rose to 5.3 percent, up from 4.9 percent in November 2016, according to the latest report from the New York State Department of Labor.

Two Western New York counties were among those that experienced the largest increases from the previous year. The unemployment rate in Allegany increased from 5.8 percent to 6.5 percent year to year and Orleans county from 5.1 percent to 5.9 percent.

One region saw a decline in the jobless rate — New York City, from 4.7 percent to 4.0 percent. Among regions, Watertown-Fort Drum had the highest unemployment rate in November at 6.8 percent.

The rates are not seasonally adjusted, meaning they reflect such seasonal influences as holiday hires. This is why the rates are compared year to year.

The number of people in Buffalo-Niagara unemployed and seeking work increased to 29,100 from 26,300 in November 2016, the report showed.

Statewide, the number of private-sector jobs increased November to November by 109,300 to about 8.1 million, according to a payroll survey of 18,000 employers in the state.

John Slenker, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo, said the shrinking labor pool is making it harder for companies to find qualified workers, even though the pace of job growth locally has been subdued this year.

"We're pressing up against the labor force," he said. "But it's not just us. Across the country, there's a labor shortage."

The preliminary November rates reflect another recent jobs report that found that this region added 600 jobs during November, breaking a two-month decline in both September and October. Hiring remained weak in financial services, construction and at local bars, restaurants and hotels in November despite the additional jobs.

By comparison, in 2015 and 2016, Buffalo-Niagara had its two strongest years of job growth in this century thanks in large part to a handful of big construction projects.

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