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By Lisa Ace

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Sponsored Post: McCabe Enterprises Electrical Contractor is hiring

By Lisa Ace

McCabe Enterprises Electrical Contractor is growing and needs your help. Join the best electrical team at the largest electrical contractor in the county and be a part of something great. We offer a clear career path with opportunities for advancement as foremans, field superintendents or project managers as you learn and grow. Our amazing clients include everything from homeowners, small businesses to large industrial and agricultural organizations. If you are an experienced electrician and a hard worker with a strong growth mindset apply today!

County's unemployment rate ticks up slightly in December

By Howard B. Owens

For the first time in more than a year, Genesee County's unemployment rate was higher than the same period a year earlier in December.

The December rate was 2.9 percent, according to Department of Labor statistics.  The prior December it was 2.7 percent.  It was 5.7 percent in December 2020.

In Genesee County in December, there were 29,300 local residents in the labor force, with 900 of those people looking for work, compared to 29,000 workers in December 2021, with 800 of them looking for work.

The number of non-farm jobs in Genesee County reported in December was 22,400, up 200 jobs from 2021 but 100 lower than in November, which was 400 lower than October.

The nation's job market remains strong, according to news reports. The economy grew by 517,000 jobs when economists projected more modest growth, about 188,000 jobs.

Genesee County's January numbers won't be available for at least another three weeks.

Meanwhile, economists remain concerned about the declining participation in the labor force of men of prime working age, a trend that started in the 1960s.

Help wanted: a sign of the times

By Joanne Beck


There’s a common presence at many businesses nowadays: help wanted postings.

A shortage of workers has enveloped most every business sector since the pandemic rubble landed, and many employers have been encountering stumbling blocks with filling vacancies ever since.

And it’s not just at restaurants and grocery stores, as the shortfall is also for county positions, law enforcement and school districts.

Few, but qualified
City of Batavia Police Department has been short-staffed due to vacancies, creating more overtime hours for full-time officers, Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

“This has caused the officers to work a lot of short-shift over time, therefore we have not been able to work as much of the OT associated with special details as we would like,” he said. “We have hired several qualified candidates that are working their way through academies or field training and will be able to fill vacancies on road patrol in the near future. This will allow us to get back to working more of the specialized details that we look forward to doing.”

He did note, however, that the department had “a significant drop in applicants” for the last exam.

“Roughly, the applicants were cut in half. It has been difficult recruiting in public safety, across the spectrum for a variety of reasons,” Heubusch said. “I will say that although the number of candidates has decreased, we have not seen a decrease in qualified candidates. In fact, I would say just the opposite. Given everything that has been going on in the nation, the current candidates are extremely dedicated to becoming law enforcement officers as demonstrated through the background and interview process. We have learned that these recruits have a very high drive to be police officers for the City of Batavia.”

That’s some good news. So how about Batavia City Schools, whose board just approved a long slate of teachers and teacher aide positions?

Creative recruiting
During her presentation at this week’s meeting, Trisha Finnigan, executive director of staff development & operations, outlined the ways in which the district is recruiting for and retaining qualified candidates. It’s not just about posting a position anymore. 

“So starting with recruitment, we've had to take a more creative approach in terms of recruiting exceptional staff to join the Blue Devils family. Instead of leaning on traditional methods, such as newspapers and our websites and our recruitment sites, for example, we've been using Indeed,” she said. “We’ve also noticed that when I was looking back at the past year, there seems to be a disconnect from when someone expresses interest in a position. Now we tell them, they, for example, have to complete a civil service application, as it seemed like that wouldn't happen. So when I looked back at that information, we decided that we would take a different approach.”

That approach involves not taking for granted that job applicants understand the steps required to apply, she said. Candidates are scheduled for an interview and given the Civil Service application for them to complete. The process has been refined, she said, to be more proactive about informing candidates about what’s next for them to do, such as getting fingerprinted or completing necessary paperwork.

“It's been awesome. We just now posted for substitute teacher aides and teachers and those are coming in. So I'm feeling positive about us having some people that could fill the need that last year we were lacking,” Finnigan said. “So we're moving in the right direction. It's my responsibility to make sure that I'm tapping into avenues where we're attracting exceptional candidates to come and work with us. And then how do we get that? Let me just see if I've missed anything here. One of the other things we did too, is that, in negotiating contracts with some of our units last year, we needed to do a better job of posting what the benefits of the positions were.

"So instead of, say, putting out teacher aide, just with a salary range, we made sure we included things like there is health insurance benefits, you can get paid for holidays, you can accrue vacation time," she said. "So those are some things when we're competing with other employers in the in the area, maybe offering a more an increase hourly wage, we can compete with some other things.”

Parents have been asking about jobs aligning with their schedules “to mirror the school calendar." That has meant more hiring of local residents, which has been nice, she said.

“Hiring is a very collaborative process. We work closely with the administrators, we’re looking at positions. Since July 1, we've hired over 35 personnel with New York State Certification, 16 new support team members, and that includes food service helpers, custodial support, as well as teacher aides,” she said. “And it should be noted that with that money we received for the preschool programs, that allowed us to add 10 positions, certificated positions … So that was something because we really did have to hustle.”

She had a quick turnaround of posting, hiring and getting those people trained for school opening in the second week of September. It worked out well, she said, and the district continues to reach out to colleges for candidates. In an effort not to “settle” for a lesser qualified candidate, the district has opted to plug in gaps with retired teachers until the best candidates are found.

She also spoke about retention: “it's one thing that we are getting people, it’s another to keep them."  And that depends on the tangible — contract terms — and the more subtle perks of a welcome package and surveys, she said.

“It’s a way of gauging their satisfaction and their perception of whether they feel valued as a Batavia Blue Devils family member,” she said. “And I also get interesting feedback on the interview process and other things that helped me plan better when we're looking for candidates.”

Resolving to address the issue
Earlier this year Genesee County Legislature agreed to waive all Civil Service fees to remove a potential barrier for applicants, and this week approved a resolution to extend the residency territory for corrections officer positions in hopes of gaining more interested candidates for openings.

Mental Health Department Director Lynda Battaglia previously spoke of the difficulty in filling four vacancies for wide-ranging clinical and finance positions to a psychiatrist role. The county has had trouble finding a full-time psychiatrist and revised the position to provide a hybrid of in-person and remote counseling services to better accommodate someone not able to be local on a full-time basis.

Many, but inexperienced
Although some employers are being more creative to attract job candidates, it may not be about the job at all. At least that’s what Chris Van Dusen of Empire Hemp Company has discovered. He and wife Shelly were at a recent job fair and did quite nicely, they said.

“We had over 300 applications,” Shelly said.

What they soon learned was that applicants weren’t so interested in the job as they were the product. And when that misunderstanding was cleared up (no, there’s no smoking marijuana on the job), the 300 potentials dropped to about three or four viable candidates, the couple said.

State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon visited Batavia Tuesday and acknowledged the lack of qualified candidates for some fields while she encouraged students to pursue education, training and labor skills to fill the many jobs available in manufacturing, food chain and other trades fields.

Maybe when all is said and done, it might just be that there aren’t the bodies out there to fill vacancies. According to the most recent state data, there were 30,500 Genesee County residents reported to be in the labor force, up from 29,400 a year ago. The state’s unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is a few points lower than 7.1 percent a year ago, and 900 people were listed as unemployed, compared to 1,300 a year ago.

Photo by Howard Owens.

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Labor Department reports a 3 percent unemployment rate for county in July

By Howard B. Owens

There were 30,500 Genesee County residents reported in the labor force for July, according to state data released today, up from 29,400 a year ago and down by 100 from June.

July marks the third straight month that Genesee County's labor force -- the number of people either working or seeking work -- has topped 30,000. The labor force was typically over 30,000 in the several months before the pandemic struck.

The unemployment rate for July is pegged at 3 percent, lower than a year ago when it was 4.3 percent. The rate in June was 2.8 percent.

In both July and June, 900 people were listed as unemployed, according to the Labor Department data. In July 2021, there were 1,300 people unemployed.

The state's unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for July compared to 7.1 percent a year ago.

County's unemployment rate remains below 3.0

By Howard B. Owens

At 2.8 percent, Genesee County's unemployment rate has remained at historically low levels.

June was the third straight month this year when the county's unemployment rate was below 3.0 percent and the fourth time since November 2021.

A year ago, the June rate was 4.4 percent, and in 2020, it was 8.3 percent.

The state's Labor Department reports that there are 29,800 people employed in the county, 900 registered as unemployed and a total labor force of 30,700 individuals.

A year ago, the total labor force was 29,400, and it was 29,500 in 2020.

The state's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, down from 7.5 percent a year ago, according to the DOL.  The nation's is 3.8 percent, down from 6.1 percent. 

Genesee County's unemployment rate drops again; 800 jobs added to local economy

By Howard B. Owens

Genesee County's unemployment rate of 2.8 percent in April is the lowest early spring rate on record and just a tick higher than the previous low of any time of year -- higher than reported in December when it was 2.7 percent.

A year ago in April, the rate was 4.6 percent. 

The pre-pandemic low for April was 3.1 percent in 2019.

The NYS Labor Department reports 29,500 Genesee County residents are in the labor force, up from 28,900 a year ago and two hundred workers more than a month earlier.

According to the reported data, there are 800 county residents looking for work.  A year ago, there were 1,300 residents listed as unemployed.

The labor department also reports 22,300 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, up from 21,500 in April a year ago.

There are 17,100 private sector jobs compared to 16,400 a year ago.  There are now 5,100 government jobs in the county, which is 100 more than a year ago.


Genesee County's unemployment rate remains historically low

By Howard B. Owens

For the sixth straight month, Genesee County's unemployment rate was lower than the pre-pandemic rate for the same month, according to the New York State Department of Labor. The rate of 3.7 percent for March of this year reflects a dip when compared to a 4.5 percent rate in March 2019.

The rate in March 2021 was 5.6 percent and the rate in March 2020 was 5.7 percent.

The current rate is the lowest it's been from available state labor department records going back to 1990.

There are 29,300 workers reported in the labor force for Genesee County currently, compared to 28,700 in 2021 and 29,800 in 2019.  

The reported total number of Genesee County residents who were employed in March 2022 is 28,200, compared to 27,100 a year ago, and 28,420 in 2019.

There are 1,100 people reportedly looking for work, compared to 1,600 a year ago and 1,320 in March 2019.

The unemployment rate for all of New York State is 4.7 percent, which is higher than the March 2019 -- pre-pandemic -- rate of 4 percent.


Labor data for Genesee County shows increase in jobs, lower unemployment

By Howard B. Owens

Job and employment data released recently by the NYS Labor Department indicate a strong labor market for Genesee County.

There are 21,500 non-farm jobs in Genesee County, up from 21,000 a year ago.

The total number of private-sector jobs grew from 15,900 to 16,300.

The county's unemployment rate for February 2022 was 4.1 percent, down from 6.2 a year ago and the lowest rate for any February since at least 1990.

The total labor force (the number of people working or seeking work) grew from 29,000 to 29,200.

The total number of local residents employed in February was 28,200, up from 27,200.  The number of employed in February 2020 was higher at 28,600, which was the highest level since 2009 when it was 29,600.

The total unemployed -- people still in the market for jobs -- was 1,200, down from 1,800 a year earlier and lower than in 2020, just before the start of the pandemic, when it was 1,600.  The February total for Genesee County was the lowest since at least 1990.

The state's unemployment rate is 5.1 percent and the nation's is 3.8 percent.

In a recent report, however, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (a Federal agency), New York has a higher labor under-utilization rate than the rest of the nation. 

Labor under-utilization is a measure of the number of people who are unemployed, employed part-time for economic reasons, and those marginally attached to the labor force.

For New York, the rate is 12.2.  Nationally it is 9.4 percent.

New York City's under-utilization rate appears to be pushing up the state average.  In NYC it is 15.5.  For the rest of the state, the data is not broken down by county so the statistic isn't available specifically for Genesee County.

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