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Local job growth slows during September

Job growth in the Buffalo Niagara region slowed to a crawl in September, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The region added 1,700 jobs from September 2015 to September 2016, a 0.3 percent increase over the past year, the Labor Department reported.

That's the slowest increase this year, and less than a quarter of the 1.4 percent annualized growth rate during August.

While hiring was strong in the construction industry and at local stores during September, those gains were offset by cutbacks at local factories and a steep drop in temporary help, the Labor Department said.

The September job data is based on a more timely but often more volatile review of unemployment claims data. A separate set of job statistics, based on a broader set of Census data, has shown that the region's job growth was stronger than the Labor Department numbers indicated late last year and early this year, but those figures have not been updated beyond March.

The 0.3 percent annual growth rate in September was the slowest this year and was just a fraction of the 1.7 percent increase in hiring nationwide and far less than  the 1.3 percent gain in employment across New York.

The September job growth was more than three times slower than the pace of hiring during August, which the Labor Department pegged as the fastest of any month this year even after revising that increase downward. August job growth, originally reported at 1.4 percent, was revised downward by about 1,300 jobs to a 1.1 percent annual pace, based on more complete unemployment claims data.

As a result, looking at longer-term trends within the Buffalo Niagara job market can help smooth out the increasingly volatile monthly swings, said John Slenker, the Labor Department's regional economist in  Buffalo.

So far this year, job growth has averaged about 0.6 percent, which is in line with the gains of between 0.5 percent and 1 percent that the region has experienced since the end of the recession.

"This month is very much out of character, and I don't have anything else to support it," Slenker said.

With the exception of a spike in hiring in Ithaca and Watertown, most of the state's  job growth during September was centered downstate, where New York City, and Kingston both added jobs at a better than 2 percent annual rate. Buffalo's job growth ranked 7th among the state's 15 biggest metro areas, the Labor Department reported. Albany, Binghamton, Syracuse and Utica all lost jobs over the past 12 months.

"Nearly all of New York state’s year-to-year private sector employment growth remains concentrated in New York City and its suburbs," said E.J. McMahon, the research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany.

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