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July 12, 2018 - 3:22pm

County's tight labor market gets tighter

posted by Howard B. Owens in jobs, economy, news, notify.

All signs point to a tight labor market in Genesee County with more than 1,000 known job openings and only 1,100 people considered unemployed.

While local companies struggle to find workers, Genesee County's labor force size may have shrunk. 

Labor force participation has declined from May 2017 (the most recent month of data available), when it was 29,900, to 29,500 in May 2018. It was 30,400 in 2016 and 30,800 in 2015. The highest level since 1990 was 33,800 in 2009.

The decline could reflect Baby Boomers retiring, out-migration of prime-age workers, or a number of prime-age workers still sitting on the sidelines. There are not detailed enough statistics for a small county to say.

Nationally, the labor force participation rate is 62 percent, well below the pre-recession level of 66 percent. At the same time, wages have started to go up but not as fast as inflation.

Genesee County's unemployment rate -- as a measure of prime-age working people who either have a job or are looking for work -- was 3.8 percent in May, lower than a year ago, at 4.4 percent, but the same rate as May 2016.

It is the lowest unemployment rate in the GLOW region.

The lowest rate for May since 2000 was 3.5 percent in 2001 and the highest was 7.5 percent in 2012.

That reflects 1,100 people in the county who don't have adequate work but want work. The highest that number has been since 1990 was 2,700 in 1992.

The number of employed Genesee County residents in May was 28,400, down from 28,600 a year prior. It was 29,200 in May 2016 and 29,400 in May 2015. The highest its been since 1990 was 32,300 in 2006.

The Job Development Bureau has 1,036 job listings. That may not reflect all of the job openings in the county.

The sector with the highest number of listed job openings is agriculture, with 307, followed by manufacturing, 222, healthcare, 193, and retail, 65.

Every major employer in Genesee County has openings to fill, with many at hourly rates from $15 an hour to $25 an hour.

Back in 2014, when we did a story about job listings at the agency, there were only 279 listings. In April 2017, Director Scott Gage said there were 760 jobs listed.

The Job Development Bureau, 587 E. Main St., Batavia, is hosting a mini job fair from 10 a.m. to noon, Tuesday, July 24.

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