The unemployment rate in the Utica-Rome MSA decreased from 4.9 percent in August 2015 to 4.3 percent in August 2016. This marks the 43rd consecutive month of over-the-year improvements in the jobless rate. (The current unemployment rate series began in 1990.)
The unemployment rate declined from July to August. Historically, from July to August, in the past 10 years, the jobless rate declined 9 times and remained unchanged once.
The unemployment rate is expected to increase from August to September. Historically, from August to September, in the past 10 years, the jobless rate increased 8 times and declined 2 times. In September, a decline in the labor force is expected due to employment declines in seasonal industries such as leisure and hospitality, construction and retail trade.
For the 12-month period ending August 2016, the nonfarm job count in the Utica-Rome metro area increased 100, or 0.1 percent, to 128,100. Private sector employment fared much better, growing 400, or 0.4 percent.
Job gains occurred in leisure and hospitality (+400), natural resources, mining and construction (+200), education and health services (+100) and trade, transportation and utilities (+100).
Job losses were posted in government (-300), professional and business services (-200), information (-100) and financial activities (-100).
In trade, transportation and utilities, gains occurred in transportation, warehousing and utilities (+100).
Education and health services is at its highest August level on record. Leisure and hospitality is at its highest August level since 2001. Natural resources, mining and construction is at its highest August level since 2008. Although unchanged from a year ago, manufacturing remains at its highest August level since 2008.
Financial activities and information are at their lowest August levels on record. Professional and business services is at its lowest August level since 1994. Government is at its lowest August level since 2002. (The data series began in 1990.)
by Mark Barbano, Labor Market Analyst, Mohawk Valley
What is seasonality? While it impacts many economic series, it is difficult for many people to understand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines seasonality as a “pattern that more or less repeats itself each year, although this pattern may … change … over time.
Many factors contribute to seasonality, including weather conditions, holidays (e.g., Christmas, Easter), annually scheduled calendar events (e.g., the beginning and end of the school year) and dates set by law (e.g., tax filing deadline). Seasonality helps to explain why your home’s heating costs rise in the winter, why demand for turkey increases in November and why it is difficult to find a winter coat in July.
What Goes up...
Benjamin Franklin once said that the only things certain in life are death and taxes. Although death may not be seasonal, the preparation of tax returns certainly qualifies. Accounting, tax preparation and bookkeeping jobs in the Mohawk Valley jumped from 658 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 888 in the first quarter of 2012, an expansion of 230, or 35%! It is one of the few industries that typically grows in the first quarter of the year. Dominant occupations in this industry include accountants and auditors, bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks and tax preparers.
As the Mohawk Valley gets warmer in the second quarter each year, the job count picks up as a number of seasonal industries spring forward. In 2011, construction added over 1,000 jobs, or a gain of 26%, from the first to the second quarter. Another 700 jobs were gained in the third quarter. Highway, street and bridge construction employment doubled from the first to second quarter, as work crews repave and fix roads that were decimated during the region’s long winter.
Accommodation and food services employment rose almost 1,600 or 13% between the first and second quarters of 2011. Employment peaked in the third quarter, after gaining another 600 jobs, or 4.5%. Seasonal hiring in hotels, motels and restaurants in summer destinations such as Sylvan Beach, Old Forge, Cooperstown and the Turning Stone Casino and Resort help boost tourism’s contribution to the region’s economy.
Arts, entertainment and recreation is one of the most seasonal industries in the region. This is demonstrated by the 57% increase in jobs (+983) between first quarter and second quarter 2011. Employment peaked in the third quarter, after growing by gaining another 879 jobs, or 33%. Job gains were centered in amusement and theme parks, such as Enchanted Forest/Water Safari in Old Forge, and golf courses and country clubs found throughout the region.
Must Come Down...
Most of the seasonal industries mentioned above decline sharply after Labor Day. In 2011, from the third quarter to the fourth quarter, construction dipped 8% (-448), accommodation and food services fell 8% (-1,205) and the arts, entertainment and recreation industry fell 43% (-1,541). All of these industries continue to lose jobs and hit their annual employment trough in the first quarter of the year.
Accounting, tax preparation and bookkeeping jobs show a different trend. It peaks in the first quarter, drops sharply in the second quarter, continues to fall slightly in the third quarter and stays at that level in the fourth quarter.
A better understanding of seasonality helps us to appreciate its impact on our monthly job figures. Like most regions, the job count in many Mohawk Valley industries fluctuates from quarter to quarter, often due to some of the seasonal factors outlined in this article. For details on the Mohawk Valley regional economy, visit www.labor.ny.gov/stats/moh/.
NYS Department of Labor
State Office Bldg.
207 Genesee St., Room 604
Utica, NY 13501
Phone: (315) 793-2282
Fax: (315) 793-2354
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