Ranks fourth-lowest in state
By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong
Sometimes, being at the top means being very low.
For June 2014, Putnam County came out highest – meaning lowest unemployment – in a list of seven Hudson Valley counties in terms of joblessness. Moreover, it ranked fourth highest for the lowest unemployment per county on a statewide basis, according to New York statistics.
Members of the Putnam County Legislature’s Economic Development Committee got the good news in materials prepared for their July 28 session. At the meeting, Putnam County Economic Development Corp. President Meghan Taylor briefly mentioned the data, which drew little attention as the committee largely focused on a discussion of potential county involvement in a redeveloped Butterfield complex.
In an email memo to state Department of Labor staff and counterparts in area counties dealing with economic issues, Johny Nelson, the Department of Labor’s Hudson Valley Region labor market analyst, summarized the details, later passed along to the Putnam legislators.
“Among the seven counties in the region, Putnam County – 4.6 percent – had the lowest unemployment rate and Sullivan County – 6.6 percent – had the highest unemployment rate” for June 2014, Nelson wrote. The memo noted that (besides Sullivan) the other counties grouped regionally with Putnam were Rockland, with 4.9 percent June unemployment; Westchester, with 5.1 percent; Dutchess, with 5.3 percent; Orange, with 5.8 percent, and Ulster, with 6.1 percent.
Furthermore, the top five counties in New York State with the lowest unemployment rates in June 2014 included Putnam County. Besting it in slots one through three were Hamilton County, at 4.2 percent and Saratoga and Tompkins Counties, both at 4.5 percent, as listed on a state roster of all 62 New York counties. At 4.8 percent, Columbia County, also in the Hudson Valley, followed Putnam to round out the top five. The county with the highest unemployment in June was Bronx County, at 10.8 percent.
“We have the lowest unemployment rate in the entire Hudson Valley, again,” Taylor told the Economic Development Committee. “Hopefully that will continue.”
“Fantastic,” declared District 1 Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, who chairs the committee.
The state breakdowns show that Putnam County’s unemployment fell slightly in June from May’s 4.7 percent and dropped even more from the June 2013 figure of 6 percent. In June 2013, the six other counties clustered with Putnam regionally had rates as follows: Rockland, 6 percent (like Putnam); Westchester, 6.4; Dutchess, 6.9; Orange, 7.5; Ulster, 7.8; and Sullivan, 8.5.
Nelson, the state labor analyst, commented in the memo that “of the 10 labor-market regions in New York State, the Hudson Valley Region — 5.3 percent, trails only Long Island – 4.9 percent, and the Capital Region — 5.1 percent, with the lowest unemployment rate in June 2014.” That 5.3 percent represents 59,900 jobless workers.