June 17 2020

Capital Region Emerged from 1st Full Month of COVID-19 with NY’s Lowest Unemployment Rate

Demonstrating its resiliency, the Capital Region emerged from the first full month of the Coronavirus pandemic with not only the lowest unemployment rate among New York’s 10 economic development regions but also the 19th lowest among major commutersheds nationwide1, according to a Center for Economic Growth analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The strong performance of the region’s economy had been predicted at the onset of the pandemic by the Brookings Institution, which said “mostly tech-oriented university towns,” such as Provo, Durham-Chapel Hill, Hartford, Albany and San Jose, were the least exposed to a COVID-19-related recession. Helping the Capital Region weather recent months’ economic disruption were a robust Life Sciences Cluster, many essential manufacturers and sizeable public, health and finance sectors. 

NY Regions/CSAs

In April, the eight-county Capital Region had an unemployment rate of 12.9 percent. The next lowest rate in the state was 13.9 percent in the Southern Tier and the highest was 18.6 percent in Western New York. At the same time, the seven-county Albany-Schenectady combined statistical area (CSA) likewise had a 12.9 percent unemployment rate. This CSA is essentially the Capital Region, minus Greene County.

Among BLS’s 58 combined areas1 with populations exceeding 1 million, the Albany-Schenectady CSA had the 19th lowest unemployment rate. Among the major commutersheds, the Bridgeport-New Haven-Stamford New England City and Town Area (NECTA) had the lowest unemployment rate at 7.8 percent, and the Las Vegas-Hendersonville CSA had the highest at 32.2 percent.

CSAs are combinations of adjoining metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) and micropolitan statistical areas (µSAs). The Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA had an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent – the second lowest in the state. But the rates of the tourism-dependent Glens Falls MSA (15.7 percent) and Hudson µSA (10 percent) elevated the rate of the Alban-Schenectady CSA, which encompasses them.

CEG Activities

The last three months have seen CEG respond to the shutdown by emerging as what the Rockefeller Institute of Government has called an Economic First Responder. And now as the regional economy gradually reopening, CEG will pivot again to become a recovery resource.

CEG’s wide-ranging activities have included:

  • CEG’s Business Growth Solutions (BGS) team has assisted more than 60 manufacturers – 30 of which we supported as they pivoted to adapt to the needs of the public health crisis. BGS assisted the others with PPE shortages and restart plans.
  • The support BGS provided to Precision Valve & Automation in March helped it weeks later receive expedited FDA approval for its emergency ventilator.
  • CEG launched a $150,000 Urban Core grant with KeyBank Foundation to support small businesses located in our urban centers.
  • CEG assisted the Chief Executives Network for Manufacturing in launching the Capital Region Manufacturing Re-Start Program.
  • CEG has been a resource for companies seeking guidance on staffing reductions, funding support, and workforce programs.
  • Through a partnership with the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Benet Laboratories at the Watervliet Arsenal, CEG has supported the production of 500 face shields.
  • CEG’s Talent Attraction team continues to make connections for job seekers, and our Veteran Connect Center JobPath website currently has over 3,000 jobs available.
  • CEG has hosted webinars help business deal with and develop strategies to recover from the pandemic.
  • CEG has continued marketing to attract new businesses, grow our industry clusters, and re-shore vital manufacturing industries.



1 Major commutersheds are CSAs and NECTAs with populations exceeding 1 million and for which BLS reports unemployment data.


Don’t miss these insights into the trends that are shaping the Capital Region’s economy. Sign up for CEG’s e-news and follow us on:

Funding Partners