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Job growth reduces jobless rate in region

Modest job growth helped push the Buffalo Niagara region's unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent during April, the state Labor Department said Tuesday.

While the jobless rate was lower than March's 8.5 percent, unemployment is running higher than it was a year ago, when 7.6 percent of the local workforce was out of a job.

Even though the region has added jobs during 19 of the last 20 months, the pace of that growth has been modest. And with the workforce growing as more discouraged workers rejoin the labor pool in the wake of stepped-up hiring, the unemployment rate has been slow to decline.

The jobless rate last month was tied for the second-highest for any April since the 1980s and was just shy of the record high of 8.4 percent set in April 2010.

On a positive note, the Labor Department revised March's unemployment rate downward to 8.5 percent from the 8.6 percent it initially reported.

The pace of job growth in the region slowed to an annual rate of 0.4 percent during April as a rebound in hiring at the area's factories was partly offset by weakness in the service sector.

The pace of job growth during April was less than half the 1 percent annualized growth rate locally during March and was less than a third of the 1.3 percent gain statewide and the 1.4 percent increase nationally during April.

Unemployment typically declines from March to April, but this year's drop was the smallest in five years, partly due to the slowdown in job growth.

The impact of that slower job growth was muted by a nearly 9 percent increase in the number of unemployed workers in the region, which rose to 47,000 in April. The region has 17,200 more unemployed workers than it did before the recession began five years ago.