Job growth in the Buffalo Niagara region picked up during October, with local employers adding new jobs at a 0.9 percent annualized pace, the state Labor Department said Thursday.
The stronger October job growth, which was the second-fastest of any month this year, was a turnaround from September's sluggish hiring, when the 0.2 percent annualized increase was the slowest gain for any month this year.
Overall, the region added 5,200 new jobs from October 2015 to October 2016, fueled by strong hiring at local financial services firms, along with the region's bars, restaurants and hotels. That offset job losses in manufacturing, construction and at temporary help agencies.
"Overall, it looks very good," said John Slenker, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo
The October 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.
"This is a growth rate, I think, that is reflective of what the economy actually is doing," Slenker said. "We're still seeing a lot of demand," while the supply of workers actively looking for jobs has dropped as the local unemployment rate has declined to around 5 percent.
The 0.9 percent annual growth rate in October was the second-fastest this year, second only to the 1.1 percent annualized increase in August, and was faster than the 0.7 percent increase during the first 10 months of the year.
The job growth, however, was just a fraction of the 1.6 percent increase in hiring nationwide and also lagged slightly behind the 1 percent gain in employment across New York.
With the exception of a spike in hiring in Ithaca, where job growth topped 3 percent during October, most of the state's hiring last month was centered downstate. New York City and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester county region both added jobs at an annualized pace between 1 percent and 1.6 percent.
Buffalo's job growth ranked 7th among the state's 15 biggest metro areas, the Labor Department reported. Albany, Binghamton, Elmira and Utica all lost jobs over the past 12 months. Excluding government jobs, Buffalo's private-sector job growth of 1.1 percent over the past year was the fastest upstate.
"More than 90 percent of the job growth occurred downstate and was centered in New York City - but, in a notably negative trend, private employment in the Big Apple grew by less than 2 percent on a year-year basis for the first time since 2010, while private jobs in the rest of the state ticked up by just 0.6 percent," said E.J. McMahon, the research director at the Empire Center for Public Policy in Albany.
Job growth rebounds in October
Job growth rate for WNY, other areas from October 2015 to October 2016
New York City +1.6%
Buffalo Niagara +0.9%
Other WNY counties
Source: State Labor Department