May 10 2019

Capital Region’s Unemployment Rate Reaches 18-Year Low

The Capital Region averaged an unemployment rate 3.8 percent last year – the lowest annual rate since 2001. That also continued a trend that has been playing out for more than a quarter of a century in which the eight-county region’s rate has registered below the nation’s, according to a Center for Economic Growth (CEG) analysis of data from the New York State Department of Labor and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Helping the region achieve this low annual unemployment rate – the second lowest among New York’s 10 economic development regions – was nine consecutive months of sub-4 percent rates. That last time the region saw a streak that long was the nine-month run between February and October 2001.

Labor Force

The unemployment rate is a ratio of the number of unemployed workers and the size of the labor force. Both metrics performed strongly in the region in 2018, with the number of unemployed workers averaging 20,900 – an 18-year low – and the labor force averaging 547,500 – a six-year high. In fact, the labor force has expanded for 10 consecutive months since May 2018, marking its longest expansion since the one between April 2014 and April 2016.  


Driving down the number of unemployed workers was that of employed workers. At 526,600, the region’s ranks of employed was the highest it has been since 2008. A greater number of job openings in the region fueled this employment growth as well as helped attract more workers into the labor force. In 2018, the region averaged 10,979 beginning-of-the-month job postings per month, up 3.9 percent from the previous year and up 12.6 percent from 2016.

CEG Activities

CEG is engaged in the following activities to expand and enhance the Capital Region’s talent pipeline:

Veteran Connect Center (VCC): A program dedicated to attracting to the region transitioning service members stationed around the word and to retaining the veterans already here.

Upstate Alliance for the Creative Economy (ACE): A partnership that aims to ensure the region has a thriving creative economy that will not only provide more employment and freelance opportunities but also enhance efforts to attract outside talent and retain the skilled workers already here. 

Manufacturing Technology Pathways Project: Hudson Valley Community College’s new short-term, stackable credential training program, or “boot camp,” supported by part of a $250,000 KeyBank Foundation grant administered by CEG;

Certified Production Technician Program: A new eight- to 12-week-long certificate course at Schenectady County Community College, supported by part of a $250,000 KeyBank Foundation grant administered by CEG.

Manufacturing Intermediary Apprenticeship Program (MIAP): A CEG program, in partnership with the Manufacturers Association of Central New York (MACNY), to assist local manufacturers in training incumbent workers for high-skill trades.

Business Growth Solutions (BGS): As a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center, CEG’s BGS unit can help manufacturers obtain grants for employee training initiatives.

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