Predicting job market trends in the era of COVID is difficult at best, if not impossible. While the state, region and Orange County have seen dramatic declines in unemployment rates since the economy was reopened, employers are complaining about many jobs that have gone unfilled.
The federal and state Pandemic Emergency Unemployment programs are set to expire in September. While sorely needed when the economy was shut down to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in 2020, state and federal leaders are clearly indicating that they will let the program expire in September.
However, until then, employers are faced with filling jobs and few applicants. Many have been forced to offer lucrative signing bonuses to fill positions. For example, Amazon is offering a $3,000 signing bonus for workers at its Montgomery complex; UNFI is offering Class A CDL truck drivers a $5,000 signing bonus; Medline is offering CDL Drivers a $3,000 bonus, while YRC Freight is offering truck drivers a $7,500 bonus, Steris has a $1,500 signing bonus program for a Material Handler position, while Risinger Brothers is offering a $10,000 signing bonus to Class A CDL drivers that sign on with the company.
The latest statistics from the New York State Department of Labor show an improving job market, particularly in the hard-hit leisure and hospitality sector. New York State’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased from 7.8% to 7.7% in June 2021.
Private sector jobs
According to preliminary figures released by the New York State Department of Labor, the number of private sector jobs in June in New York State lagged the nation, increasing over the month by 9,800, or 0.1%, to 7,455,300.
By comparison, the number of private sector jobs in the U.S. increased by 0.5% in June 2021.
Private sector jobs in the Hudson Valley rose over the year by 72,200, or 10.6%, to 754,000 in June 2021. The largest gains were in leisure and hospitality (+28,900), trade, transportation and utilities (+18,400), educational and health services (+11,200), professional and business services (+9,200), other services (+3,800), natural resources, mining and construction (+1,500), and manufacturing (+1,400). Job losses were centered in financial activities (-2,400).
The June 2021 over-the-year job gains continued to reflect the reopening of the economy as more pandemic-related restrictions around businesses are lifted, the Department of Labor stated. Year-over-year, the region’s leisure and hospitality sector grew the fastest, up 52.9% or 28,900 jobs. While the region’s leisure and hospitality sector has regained a large portion of the jobs lost, it remains 19,200, or 18.7% below the pre-pandemic levels of June 2019.
For those that are looking for work in Orange County, the good news is that there are plenty of opportunities out there.
The Partnership will consult with experienced human resources and labor executives to monitor developments in the weeks and months ahead. I wish I could predict that the jobs market will work itself out, but there are so many factors that are at play, including preferences by some workers to continue to work from home. Stay tuned for job openings that we will continue to post in our newsletters. We work best when you keep us informed.
Maureen Halahan is the president and CEO of the Orange County Partnership. This article originally appeared in the partnership’s monthly Economic Development E-Newsletter.