Upstate New York is having a hard time getting over the recession. Unemployment in upstate rose to 8.5 percent in August, close to one percentage point higher than during August 2011, according to a new report from the New York State Department of Labor. New York’s rate peaked above the national trend, and this month Governor Andrew Cuomo started an initiative to help address the issue.
Helping long-term unemployed
The effort specifically aims to help the long-term unemployed – people unemployed for more than six months – find jobs.
Mobile reemployment teams are touring the state, setting up for a day in areas with the highest unemployment rates.
Community members who attend the sessions are given up to an hour of face-to-face career counseling, among other services.
Trainers offer help with skills like resume writing, interview techniques, and connecting with local employers.
Department of Labor spokesman Leo Rosales says, in the Finger Lakes region alone, the program has 6,500 jobs to match employees with.
Rosales also says $6 million in federal grants will be distributed to companies that hire long-term unemployed people to help with on-the-job training.
In a statement, Cuomo says getting people back to work is the key to getting the economy back on track.
“New York state’s efforts to help long-term unemployed individuals find jobs have been recognized across the nation. And this additional $6 million will be a shot in the arm as we continue to put New Yorkers back to work and get our economy back on track,” the statement said.
In contrast with New York's figures, a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows national unemployment rates fell to 7.8 percent in September, from 8.1 percent in August 2012.
The monthly drop of 0.3 percentage points comes despite the addition of only 114,000 jobs to private and public payrolls. It brings unemployment rates to below 8 percent for the first time since President Obama took office in 2009.
The decline in the jobless rate, despite relatively small job growth, can be explained by a large number of Americans taking part time jobs, NPR reports.
But for some, even finding part time work remains a challenge.
Kiyesha Goings is a Monroe County resident who has been unemployed for two years.
She has 16 years of training as an administrative assistant but she says the field is so competitive now that she cannot get past the interview stage.
Mobile teams have already visited St. Lawrence, Montgomery, and Monroe Counties and Goings is one of the hundreds who attended.
She says she has done the prep work, and taken classes to help her job search in the past. The difference with the mobile teams is that she hoped to walk away with a job.
“I’ve done the resumes, I’ve had them critiqued. I’ve done the mock interviews. And now I’m trying to see what company is hiring on the spot today, if that’s possible,” says Goings.
Goings is one of many with years of experience in a shrinking job sector. A recent New York Federal Reserve report shows that middle-skill jobs like hers have declined in upstate New York due to technology advances and globalization.
The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between six upstate New York public media outlets. The initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of the upstate New York economy.