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Now hiring: Buffalo Niagara job market keeps growing

The Buffalo Niagara job market is still chugging along.

The region added 6,400 jobs over the past year – a 1.1 percent annualized growth rate – as hiring picked up at local construction companies and in education and health services, according to new data from the state Labor Department.

The October data shows that hiring has been robust by Buffalo Niagara standards throughout 2018, with job growth averaging 1.4 percent through the first ten months of the year. That’s the fastest growth rate for that nine-month period since 1999 and more than twice as fast as the 0.6 percent job growth during the same period last year.

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

Even so, the 1.1 percent job growth rate last month was the strongest for any October in three years, giving the region more jobs at this time of year than it has had since at least 1990. And while the region is in the midst of its strongest 10-month stretch of job growth in 19 years, the pace of hiring cooled a bit last month, dropping to its slowest since December.

Hiring by private-sector businesses – which excludes government jobs – was stronger than the Buffalo Niagara region’s overall job growth rate. Private-sector hiring grew by an annualized rate of 1.3 percent during October – the 10th straight month that job growth reached that level, even if the increase was the smallest since December.

Much of the hiring during October came from a more than 8 percent surge in hiring at local construction firms. Education and health services expanded by a little more than 4 percent, while retail jobs were up almost 2 percent as holiday shopping geared up early. That offset a nearly 4 percent job loss at local bars, restaurants and hotels and a 1 percent slump in professional and business services.

Job growth across the Buffalo Niagara region last month was slightly slower than the statewide average, but it still tied for the fifth-strongest with Albany and Syracuse among the state’s 15 major metro areas. But hiring in the Buffalo Niagara region lags further behind the 1.7 percent growth across the country, continuing a long trend of sub-par job growth during times of economic expansion.

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