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Local labor force added 6,600 jobs last month

The Buffalo Niagara labor force added 6,600 jobs last month, up 1.2 percent for the year, making it the region’s third best July on record.

The private sector added 6,700 jobs, up 1.5 percent for the year, while government jobs were down by 100, the state Department of Labor reported Thursday. That put the region at a total of 552,600 jobs for July.

“We’re looking at almost four years of growth, except for one month where it didn’t happen,” said John Slenker, an economist with the state Labor Department. “That’s very impressive for this area. That’s impressive for any area.”

Job growth was up 2 percent overall in New York State as well as the rest of the country.

Total private sector jobs in Buffalo Niagara are at their highest since 2000, with about 3,400 more jobs to go to make up that difference.

Leisure and hospitality saw a 3.9 percent gain for the year, with a 2.8 percent rise in accommodations and food service, as well as a 2.5 percent increase in food services and drinking places.

Private service providing was up 1.7 percent for the year, with a 2.1 percent yearly increase for retail and a 4.5 percent jump in transportation, warehousing and utilities.

Professional and business services were up 2.2 percent for the year, while education and health services inched up 1.2 percent.

Construction was down 0.9 percent for the year, but 2013 was particularly robust in that category.

Financial activities were down 2.7 percent for the year but up 1.9 percent for the month, reflecting some offset of major bank layoffs that happened last year.

Manufacturing was up slightly with a gain of 0.4 percent. It’s not a huge jump, but after losing manufacturing jobs at a high rate for many years, that stability is a bright spot, Slenker said.

“What’s striking to me about that is that we’re not losing manufacturing jobs,” he said.

“Just holding your own in today’s marketplace – with worldwide competition, all kinds of advances in technology – and we’re able to hold our own, that’s a positive thing.”

Historically, the manufacturing industry was a disproportionately large chunk of Buffalo Niagara’s labor force compared with the rest of the country.

It’s more in line today, making up 9.2 percent of the region’s labor force, compared with the 8.7 percent national average.

Buffalo Niagara jobs peaked in 2000 before stagnating in 2001.

Just as the region came out of that recession in 2008, the national market was hit with the Great Recession.