Unemployment rate improves in Oswego County

By Debra J. Groom

Oswego County’s unemployment rate still is the highest in Central New York, according to figures released Tuesday by the state Labor Department.

Oswego County came in at 8 percent for October 2013. Only Jefferson County to the north has a higher rate at 8.7 percent.

But the Labor Department did have some good news. Oswego County’s 8 percent unemployment rate was down from the 8.7 percent in September 2013 and also is much improved over the 9.4 percent rate from a year ago in October 2012.

But still, Oswego County is slow to create jobs and see improvement in its economy compared to other Central New York counties.

Karen Knapik-Scalzo, a statistician with the Central New York region of the Labor Department headquartered in Syracuse, said Oswego County struggles with two problems.

One is the county is rural and doesn’t have as much industry as other counties like Onondaga. Second,   50 percent of its jobs are in two industry sectors: government (federal, state, local governments and schools) and utilities (such as National Grid, cable and the nuclear plants).

“In the metro Syracuse area of Madison, Onondaga and Oswego counties, the government sector overall was up 200 jobs for the year,” Knapik-Scalzo said. “And utilities sector jobs for the three-county area were pretty much even.”

Knapik-Scalzo said Oswego County always is in the top 10 for counties with the highest unemployment rates in New York state.

Unemployment across the region

Counties    Oct. 2013    Sept. 2013    Oct. 2012

Oswego           8.0                 8.7                     9.4

Onondaga       6.7                6.9                     7.7

Madison         6.7                 6.9                     7.8

Cayuga           6.5                  6.5                       7.4

Cortland        7.1                   7.1                       7.6

Oneida           7.2                  7.5                        8.1

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