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Now hiring: Local job growth stays on the upswing in April

The Buffalo Niagara job market stayed strong in April.

The region added 7,100 jobs over the past year – a 1.3 percent annualized growth rate – as hiring picked up in construction, business services and in education and health services, according to new data from the state Labor Department.

The data shows that hiring has been robust by Buffalo Niagara standards since last fall, with job growth of 1.3 percent or more during five of the last six months. With job growth averaging a little more than 1.3 percent through the first four months of this year, the pace of hiring in 2018 has been the strongest in 24 years, though only by a whisker.

One word of caution: The monthly job numbers have become increasingly volatile, and economists have warned that they could be overstating the strength of the hiring wave.

The 1.3 percent job growth rate during April was the third-strongest for any April since 2000, giving the region more jobs at this time of year than it has had since at least 1990. And with job growth reaching 1.3 percent during five of the previous six months, it is the strongest stretch of increased hiring that the region has experienced in a decade.

Hiring by private-sector businesses – which excludes government jobs – has been even stronger than the Buffalo Niagara region’s overall job growth rate. Private-sector hiring grew by an annualized rate of 1.5 percent during April, extending the sector’s streak of job growth that now has topped 1.1 percent for six straight months.

Much of the spurt in hiring during April came from the service sector. Education and health services expanded by just under 4 percent, while professional and business service jobs grew by 1.7 percent. Construction hiring also was strong, rising by 3 percent. That offset a 1.6 percent job loss at local stores and a small drop in hiring at the region’s factories.

Job growth across the Buffalo Niagara region during April was stronger than the statewide average and ranked fifth among the state’s 15 major metro areas, behind only Dutchess-Putnam counties, Ithaca, Nassau-Suffolk counties and New York City. But hiring here still isn’t growing as fast as it is across the country, where job growth reached 1.6 percent in April.

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