Two steps forward, one step back. That’s how some are describing the economy and job outlook in Rochester.
Unemployment hit 8.4 percent in June – up from 7.7 percent from one year ago. It is the 5th straight month of increases in the number of people looking for work
At the same time – a report last week says Rochester companies are hiring and have created more jobs in the same 12 months than anywhere else in the state outside of New York City.
“On paper, it looks like a contradiction,” says Peter Pecor of the NYS Labor Department.
“I never thought I’d be in this position,” says Colleen Merchant. For the first time in 16 years she is looking for a job, laid off because of the economy. “It’s not that it was an error on my part, it’s just the economic downturn,” she explains.
One shock has lead to another. Colleen is attending a “career navigator” program at Rochester Works. She is surrounded by 40 other people, all qualified, hard working, talented, and all looking for work.
“I feel that it’s a little strained out there right now- there are so many people looking for jobs, so many qualified applicants,” she says.
Over the last 12 months private employers have added 92 hundred positions in the Rochester area, many of them skilled manufacturing jobs with wages higher than retail or food service jobs.
In spite of that, the unemployment rate is up .7 percent in the same 12 months. Labor experts say one explanation is that discouraged people who stopped looking for work are back at it.
“They did not have a positive attitude towards the economy and sort of pulled themselves back out of the market,” says Pecor. “Now that things have picked up, they’re coming back in.”
Then there is a group Kevin Einbinder finds himself in- employed, but looking for a better, fulltime fit. “I do freelance work, I do part time work, but ideally I’m looking for a full time opportunity to do something that I’m really passionate about,” he explains.
June and july are the months those seeing work compete with college grads doing the same thing. And baby boomers are holding on to their jobs longer in part because of the economy.
Jobs, while growing aren’t growing fast enough to accommodate everyone who is looking. “At this point what I’m doing is being cautious, saving money,” Einbinder explains describing his strategy.
“I don’t want to say I’m optimistic at this point,” says Colleen Merchant. “There are so many people out there working that it’s just saturated.”