March 15 2021
Employment/Workforce,General,Regional/County Profiles

The Capital Region Sectors that Bounced Back the Most Last Summer

By the end of summer, Capital Region clothing stores and personal service providers such as hair and beauty salons experienced the biggest employment rebounds while food services and beverage places, such as restaurants, sustained the heaviest job losses, according to a Center for Economic Growth analysis of new data from the New York Department of Labor.1

All/Private Sectors

Employment for all sectors in the eight-county region averaged 478,853 in Q3. That meant there were -49,050 fewer employed workers, or -9.3 percent, compared to a year earlier. That was the second lowest employment growth rate among New York’s 10 economic development regions, trailing only the Long Island region at 0.7 percent.  

The biggest drag on total employment in Q3 were food services and drinking places, which includes restaurants and bars. This sector sustained a -9,386 job loss that was almost double that of any other sector. While the region registered 53 fewer employer establishments in this sector, that was half the 103-establishment loss the sector experienced in Q3 2002, in the wake of the 2001 recession.

In the Capital Region, Q3 total employment declines were steepest in counties with sizeable leisure and hospitality sectors. Warren County had the steepest employment decline at -12.5 percent, followed by Columbia County at -11.9 percent and Saratoga County at -11.4 percent.

Hardest Hit Sectors

Behind food services and drinking places in employment losses was local government, with a decline of -8,243 jobs, or -22.6 percent. After that was accommodation, which includes hotels, at -4,957 jobs, or -47 percent.

Rebounding Sectors

Among the major sectors2 that had contracted in Q2 but were recovering in Q3 on a year-over basis, clothing stores had the biggest bounce.3 Whereas clothing stores had seen a -69.7 percent year-over-year decline in Q2, by Q3 that loss had narrowed to -22.6 percent, or a 43.2 percentage point change.

Following clothing stores’ bounce back were personal and laundry services (e.g., beauty and nail salons), sporting goods/hobby/book/music stores, and furniture and home furnishing stores, and food services and drinking places. These sectors benefitted from the limited reopening of select businesses as the Capital Region entered Phase II (e.g. essential in-store retailers) on June 3 and Phase III (e.g. personal care and restaurants) on June 17 and Phase IV (e.g., casinos and other low-risk arts/entertainment) on June 30.

Growing Sectors

In Q3, 23 sectors in the region had realized year-over-year job gains, compared to only 14 in Q2. With consumers heavily relying on online shopping during the lockdown, the courier and messenger sector over the year added 762 jobs in Q3 and warehousing and storage added 332 jobs. The federal government was the third biggest job gainer, adding 297 jobs.

Essential manufacturing remained a growth engine in Q3, with chemical manufacturing (e.g., Regeneron Pharmaceuticals) adding 164 jobs, beverage manufacturers adding 124 jobs, and electrical equipment manufacturers (e.g. Espy MFG and Electronics) adding 90 jobs.

CEG Initiatives

  • Since COVID-19, CEG has stepped up its efforts to support local businesses and accelerate the Capital Region’s economic recovery through the following activities:
  • Assisting companies statewide with reshoring and rebuilding supply chains by leveraging an $800,000 CARES ACT grant.  
  • Serving as the group sponsor for a first-of-its-kind semiconductor apprenticeship program that will train 50 GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab8 workers.
  • Awarding $200,000 in COVID-19 emergency relief funds to Capital Region.
  • Helping manufacturers recommence operations after the lockdown through the Capital Region Manufacturing Re-Start Program.
  • Assisting manufacturers, such as Precision Valve and Automation, pivot to make high-need medical equipment and supplies.
  • Manufacturing protective personal equipment for local essential workers, through a Rensselaer County IDA-sponsored partnership with the Center of Gravity and Benet Laboratories at the Watervliet Arsenal.


1 Data from Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW).

2 Rankings exclude sectors with less than 500 employees.

3 “Bounce” is measured as the difference between the Q3 2020 and Q2 2020 all industries Y/Y employment growth rates.

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