The Buffalo Niagara job market, which had been growing solidly throughout 2018, took a breather in November.
The region added 3,000 jobs over the past year – a 0.5 percent annualized growth rate that was only about a third of the 1.4 percent pace that the area averaged during the first 10 months of this year, according to new data from the state Labor Department.
The slower growth during November isn’t a complete surprise, though. A separate set of job data based on more detailed employment data compiled by the federal government has been showing much slower job growth than the monthly survey released by the labor department.
And the November job data is more in line with the more modest 0.4 percent pace of hiring that the other federal job data showed through June.
"I think the numbers are converging," said Timothy Glass, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo.
The 0.5 percent job growth rate last month was the weakest monthly gain in 18 months and less than half of the slightly better than 1 percent increase in October.
Even so, the region had more jobs in November than it’s had at this time of year since at least 1990. But the pace of the growth has been slowing since August as unemployment dipped below 4 percent, and employers have complained that it is difficult to find qualified workers at a time when the pool of unemployed people is also at a 28-year low.
"It's just getting to the point where they can't find the workers," Glass said.
Hiring remained robust in construction, where hiring was up 6.5 percent in November. Transportation also was strong, adding jobs at a 3.4 percent annual pace, while education and health services continued to grow at a 3.4 percent annualized rate. Holiday hiring got off to a strong start, with retail jobs growing by 1.7 percent during November.
But hiring slumped at local bars, hotels and restaurants, falling by 3.4 percent over the past year, and at professional services firms, which had 4 percent fewer jobs than a year ago.
The November slowdown in hiring was felt across upstate New York. Job growth across the Buffalo Niagara region last month was less than half of the statewide average, but it still tied for the eighth-strongest, with Glens Falls, among the state’s 15 major metro areas.
Job growth was stronger downstate. And hiring in the Buffalo Niagara region lags further behind the 1.6 percent growth across the country, continuing a long trend of subpar job growth during times of economic expansion.