Unemployment rate ties highest March but down from February

The local unemployment rate dropped over a half percent from February to March, but remained unchanged from the previous year, according to state Department of Labor statistics released today. The Utica-Rome metro area’s jobless rate for March was 8.8 percent — down from 9.4 percent in February. The current rate is at its highest March level on record, tying the previous two years. The data has been collected since 1990.

Following normal seasonal trends, the rate declined from February, noted state Labor Department Regional Economist Mark S. Barbano. The rate should continue to fall in April, Barbano noted. "Construction and leisure and hospitality employment will continue to grow as inclement weather subsides." In the past decade, from March to April, the rate always went down. With a seasonal decline in the rate expected in April, the high mark for the year so far will most likely be the 9.4 percent rate in February.

Here are the local counties unemployment rates for March:

¿ Oneida — 8.5 percent, down from 9.1 percent in February but unchanged from 8.5 percent in March 2011.

¿ Madison — 9.3 percent, down from 9.9 percent in February but up from 9.2 percent in March 2011.

¿ Lewis — 11.5 percent, down from 11.9 percent in February but up from 11.3 percent in March 2011.

¿ Herkimer — 9.8 percent, down from 10.4 percent in February and from 9.9 percent in March 2011.

¿ Oswego — 11.3 percent, down from 12.2 percent in February and from 11.4 percent in March 2011.

As reported late last week, the local job count rose again from February to March.

From March 2011 to March 2012, the Utica-Rome metro area’s total non-agricultural job count rose by 3,500 — 2.8 percent — to 130,600. This is the seventh month in a row that over-the-year job gains have occurred.