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Employment Woes

Area counties’ jobless rates among highest in New York

January 10, 2010
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

Fulton County's status as having the highest unemployment rate in the state, excluding New York City, at 9.5 percent in November is a troubling but not surprising statistic, local officials said.

Fulton County is followed not far behind by Hamilton County at 9.4 percent and Montgomery County at 8.9 percent.

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said Fulton County often is at the top of the unemployment rate list.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Jennifer Lazier, left, of Gloversville gets assistance from Cindy Mahoney, Resource Room coordinator, at the Workforce Solutions Center in Gloversville on Wednesday.

"The county has suffered because we're dependent on service and manufacturing sectors, which are slumping in this economy," Stead said.

Stead said Fulton and Montgomery counties have a difficult time competing with bigger shopping areas in the Capital Region. Stores in the area often lose customers to the bigger stores in Albany and Saratoga, especially during the holidays, he said.

"We compete with them but we're still quite rural and we don't have the same large retail centers," he said.

Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties Workforce Solutions Executive Director Gail Breen said the approximately 500 layoffs that occurred in late October when King TeleServices in Gloversville closed probably contributed to the increased rate in Fulton County.

"Also, a lot of the seasonal work that continued into October because of a warm fall finally felt layoffs in November," she said. "No matter how many years you look back, because we are focused on seasonal employment, you tend to see an uptick in the unemployment rate [in Fulton County around November]."

Breen said she sees a silver lining, though - she has seen more and more employers seeking support so they can hire another employee. She said the state can reimburse up to 50 percent of the wages of a newly hired employee while that new hire is being trained for the job. It's a benefit she said more and more employers have been taking advantage of lately.

"We're seeing more employers asking about on-the-job training," she said. "We can help them defray the costs so those employers can train [new employees] or retrain [existing employees]."

Johnstown Mayor Sarah Slingerland said the tone of the city helps maintain a business-friendly atmosphere.

"By maintaining a positive tone and a business-friendly environment, that contributes to the overall positive environment for people working and living here," she said. "Right now, we have two brand-new restaurants ... and there is growth within [yogurt producer] Fage. All of this contributes to a positive atmosphere."

In Gloversville, job seeker Jennifer Lazier, 26, who has been looking for a job for about a month, said she is looking for employment after an attempt at running her own business did not go as well as she hoped. She said with an associate degree in business and managerial experience, she is hopeful she will find a job.

Lazier said with three dependent children and her fiance's ill father to take care of, her fiance's job is not enough to keep the family afloat.

"It's hard to even get an interview," she said. "When I call to follow up, to make sure they received my information, they say the position's already been filled. It's really tough."

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King said he hopes to create a more business-friendly environment in the city and wants to emphasize the positives the city has to offer in order to draw businesses and create more jobs. He said the inexpensive housing in the city is a draw to businesses and young families.

"We have to emphasize why a family and a business would want to come here," he said. "Another important thing is to emphasize shopping local. Just filling up your gas tank locally helps."

Kayleigh Karutis can be reached at



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