A surge in seasonal construction and trade jobs helped push the unemployment rate in Erie and Niagara counties down to 4.7 percent in June, the state Labor Department said Tuesday.
The unemployment rate, which slipped from 4.8 percent in May, was the lowest June rate since 1990 and the third lowest for the month in the last 23 years as the region continues to enjoy unusually low jobless levels.
Yet the June employment report also shows that the region's overall economy continues to struggle, with the local job base shrinking by 800 positions, or 0.1 percent, from a year ago, at a time when the total number of jobs in the state was growing by 1 percent.
Yet the region's unemployment rate was well below the national jobless rate of 5.2 percent and the statewide rate of 6.2 percent, on a seasonally unadjusted basis.
"Things are quiet. Unemployment is at a relatively low level," said George P. Smyntek, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo. "We are moving forward, but at a slow pace."
While the jobless rate was declining, the total number of jobs in the two-county region slid by 800 to 545,200 last month from 546,000 a year ago; the figure is up by 2,700 from 542,500 in May.
Most of the gains from May were seasonal in nature, led by 1,400 new construction jobs, which boosted that sector's total employment to 22,800 last month. The number of trade jobs also soared by 1,300 to 131,200, mostly because of the opening of seasonal restaurants and retail stands, Smyntek said.
The number of manufacturing jobs rose by 700 to 89,000 because of gains in the metals, auto, industrial machinery and food products industries.
The service sector was flat last month at 159,500, possibly because the cold spring caused some amusement and recreation firms to delay their summer hiring, Smyntek said.
Erie County's jobless rate fell to 4.5 percent from 4.6 percent in May and 4.9 percent a year ago.
Buffalo's unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent last month from 7.7 percent in May and 8.2 percent a year ago.