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The Times
  • Job growth rises across the region

  • Economic good news is a rarity these days, but the Utica-Rome area has something to boast about.

    The region had the highest percentage of job growth in the state over the past year, adding 4,300 private-sector jobs, up 4.4 percent from August 2011 to August 2012.

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  • Economic good news is a rarity these days, but the Utica-Rome area has something to boast about.
    The region had the highest percentage of job growth in the state over the past year, adding 4,300 private-sector jobs, up 4.4 percent from August 2011 to August 2012.
    At the same time, the area’s August unemployment rate of 8.2 percent was the highest since the state started tracking monthly unemployment.
    But one analyst believes that might be good news, too.
    “It’s a phenomenon we’re seeing in a lot of areas,” said Mark Barbano, a state Labor Department regional analyst. “People who stopped looking are starting again.”
    And many job-seekers have found work over the last year.
    Leading the charge is the health care industry; leisure and hospitality; and trade, transportation and utilities, according to the Department of Labor.
    That news is not a surprise, said the Genesis Group’s Executive Director Raymond Durso, Jr.
    “Studies show that is where our potential for growth is,” he said.
    The spike in the number of jobs is helping the region pull itself up to pre-recession levels.
    Barbano said the area’s fastest growing industry is health care.
    “We’ve seen growth there for years,” he said. “Hardly a year goes by that it doesn’t go up.”
    The Department of Labor’s numbers show that the most successful industries are the new mainstays of the Mohawk Valley economy. The largest jumps have come in:
    •Health and education services, which added 1,500 jobs and grew 5.7 percent during the last year.
    •Leisure and hospitality, which added 1,000 jobs and grew 8.8 percent
    •Trade, transportation and utilities, which added 1,200 jobs and grew 5.6 percent.
    •Service industries, which added 4,600 jobs and grew 4.0 percent.
    At some of the area’s health care facilities, there are multiple open positions, which means the sector could grow even more.
    “The need for experienced nurses is growing, especially in the emergency room and the ICU,” said Jackie Howell, human resources director at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare.
    Another area that is growing slowly is small-to-medium manufacturers, said Garry Smith, marketing director for Columbia Place Associates, a Utica staffing firm that places temporary workers across the region.
    Many of its clients are former manufacturing employees who are returning to work, Smith said.
    “A lot of our workers start off as temporary employees and then are eventually hired back on full-time as companies stabilize or start to expand again,” he said.
    The growth in each sector has been predictable.
    At Sangertown Square in New Hartford, five new retailers, including DSW and Wet Seal, have added 85 jobs in the past 24 months.
    The area’s retail market has been improving steadily because it has been underserved and has a stable level of consumer expendable income, said Alison Ryan Cahalan, Sangertown’s marketing director.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We don’t feel the highs and lows of economic fluctuation as much as other parts of the country, making it an area that is easy to invest and settle into,” she wrote in an email. “Companies are realizing this more and more, resulting in new entries to the market, and therefore increased consumer confidence.”
    For health care, more senior citizens are choosing to stay in their homes rather than go to a nursing home, said Burt Danovitz, executive director of the Resource Center for Independent Living.
    “This creates more jobs at a lesser cost,” he said.
    The center has added between 80 and 100 nurses just to meet the demand and expects to hire more in the near future.
    In all likelihood, the unemployment rate will go up next month.
    September’s unemployment always has been higher than August’s because seasonal jobs end. But the number of job openings is expected to increase as well.
    At a state-run career center in Rome, the number of open jobs is up, Manager Terri Humphries said.
    “There’s no major change in job-seekers, but generally we’re seeing an increase in the number of available positions,” she said. “There wasn’t as much demand before.”
    Much of that demand is steady and covers several industries, Humphries said.
    “It’s the kind of healthy growth across the board,” she said.
    In order to stay competitive, nursing homes such as St. Joseph’s in Utica, have added services.
    For example, the nursing home is expanding its rehabilitation services, Administrator Fred Deck said.
    “We hired on another company and we’ll also be hiring a full-time speech therapist,” he said.
    What could continue to push the region’s growth further is the often-mentioned nanotechnology projects in Marcy.
    Either way, the Genesis Group believes the region has the potential to continue to grow.
    “This area has seen its ups and downs and we always bounce back,” Durso said. “We’re an emerging region and we need to stay positive.”
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