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LOCAL UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DECLINES TO 5% IN AUGUST

Growth in manufacturing and trade jobs helped drive the Buffalo-Niagara Falls unemployment rate down to 5 percent in August.

The local unemployment rate fell from 5.6 percent in July, and got below the statewide unemployment rate for August of 5.1 percent.

The rate was helped by a seasonal trend of young workers leaving the unemployed ranks, said George P. Smyntek, regional economist for the New York State Department of Labor.

Students exiting school typically swell the ranks of the unemployed in July. By August, many students have found work.

The city of Buffalo's unemployment rate fell from 9.2 percent in July to 8.4 percent in August.

The Department of Labor recorded a total of 544,100 jobs on the Niagara Frontier in August, which is up 1,500 jobs from August 1998. The total private sector job growth was actually 2,100, because government jobs dropped by 600 in the last 12 months.

Although jobs are being added, the pace of private sector job growth is still only about three-tenths of 1 percent, which is well behind most other parts of the country.

Most other parts of New York are also creating jobs faster. Dutchess County's annual job growth rate is 2.7 percent and Utica-Rome reported a 1.1 percent growth rate.

"We've got a different industrial mix here. We've got a durable manufacturing base. When you look at durable manufacturing across the country, it's not showing any major change," Smyntek said.

Local manufacturing showed signs of life in August by adding 400 jobs. The trades industry was another winner with 200 new jobs.

"By historical perspectives, these are good numbers," Smyntek said of the August unemployment report.

The services sector, the largest segment of the local economy, dropped by only 100 jobs in August to 165,000.

Statewide private sector job growth has now extended for 24 consecutive months.

The unemployment rates by county announced Thursday for August, July and August 1998 respectively were:

Erie, 5, 5.5 and 4.7.

Niagara, 5.1, 5.9 and 5.7

Chautauqua, 4.1, 4.7 and 4.4.

Cattaraugus, 5.8, 6.5 and 6.1

Allegany, 5.4, 6.4 and 5.8

Wyoming, 5.4, 5.8 and 6.1

Genesee, 3.2, 3.7 and 3.8

Orleans, 4.6, 5.4 and 4.1

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