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Region's jobs down by 1,600 in year Unemployment rate for November is 4.5%

A lift in retail trade, health care and business services in November helped soften the economic blow to the Buffalo Niagara region from the continuing plunge in car-manufacturing related employment, according to employment data released Thursday by the state Labor Department.

The 0.3 percent drop in the number of jobs over the last 12 months -- a loss of 1,600 jobs -- was the worst showing of the state's 14 major metropolitan areas.

"We are the only one who had a negative percentage change," said John Slenker, an analyst with the local office of the Labor Department. "One of the main reasons why the Buffalo-Niagara Falls economy has not done as well as the rest of the state is we are much more dependent on auto manufacturing than anywhere else in the state."

Last month, the Erie and Niagara county region had 61,700 factory jobs. In November of 2005, there were 63,200.

Construction employment also was down by 900 jobs, or 4.9 percent, from a year ago.

"Part of it is seasonal," said Slenker, before citing the new casino hotel finished in Niagara Falls. "Part of it has to do with various projects that have been completed."

The region's service work grew, gaining 800 jobs over the last year, a 0.2 percent annual growth rate in past year, since November of 2005.

The growth in service jobs was led by modest gains in professional and business services, such as accounting and temporary help agencies.

Retail jobs were also up by 200, or 0.3
percent, as holiday hiring began to ramp up.

"The retail sector has been improving for the last several months," Slenker said. "It took us a long time to rebound over the recession of early 2001 to 2002 . . . This is the highest level of retail since November of 2000."

Even so, the region's job losses stand in contrast to the 0.8 percent job growth statewide and the 1.3 percent increase nationally.

Job growth was mixed in other parts of Western New York, jumping by 5.6 percent in Wyoming County and 0.9 percent in Cattaraugus County. It increased a lesser 0.4 percent in Genesee County, and was stagnant both in Allegany and Chautauqua counties.

The region's unemployment rate rose to 4.5 percent in November from 4.3 percent in October chiefly because the labor force shrank by 4,800 people from November 2005 to November 2006. This local unemployment rate was higher than the state's 4 percent and the national rate of 4.3 percent.

The rising unemployment percentage rates break down by county this way:

Erie went from 4.3 percent in October to 4.4 percent November.

Niagara was 4.3 in October and 4.7 in November.

In Buffalo the percentage dropped from 5.7 percent in October to 5.5 in November. In Niagara Falls rose from 5.5 percent in October to 6.1 percent in November.

The unemployment rates for the other counties in November and October 2006 and November 2005:

Allegany -- 4.3 percent, 3.7 percent and 5.1 percent.

Cattaraugus -- 4.6, 4.1 and 5.3.

Chautauqua -- 4.1, 3.7, and 4.9.

Genesee -- 4.3, 3.8 and 4.9.

Orleans -- 4.8, 4.1 and 5.3.

Wyoming -- 4.4, 3.8 and 5.2.
e-mail: mkearns@buffnews.com1

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