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Ossining Unemployment Rate Hits 22-Year High

OSSINING, N.Y. – The Ossining unemployment rate hit 7.8 percent in July, the highest recorded rate in at least 22 years. But officials said the combined increase of the area labor force means the news could be positive for Ossining and Briarcliff Manor.

The previous high for Ossining’s unemployment rate since 1990 was 7.7 percent in February 2010, a far cry from the 2.7 percent recorded in December 2000, according to the New York Department of Labor. There are about 18,200 people employed in the Town of Ossining, according to Department of Labor statistics. The number of employed citizens is the highest recorded since August 2008. There is also an estimated 19,800 people who make up the total job market for the Ossining area – the highest recorded in 22 years.

The rise in unemployment might seem staggering, said Hudson Valley Labor Market Analyst Johny Nelson, but the rising labor force and an increase in employment numbers is a stronger sign.

“We’re not accustomed to seeing the unemployment rate that high but the one bright aspect to look at is that the labor force is increasing,” Nelson said. “I monitor the Westchester area regularly and I can tell you that the increase in the labor force means that people are feeling more optimistic as far as looking for jobs. And you see that showing up in the number of people who are now employed.”

Village of Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said he feels fortunate that Ossining is not dealing with the extreme hardships of other areas of the country.

“The economy continues to be bad in the country. But the rate of unemployment here is lower than most other places,” Hanauer said. “The rate of employment is improving. It is still a tough time for a lot of people but from what we can see with development, I think things are seriously looking up.”

Nelson said that when looking at what the numbers mean for Briarcliff Manor, it’s important to analyze the statistics for the Mount Pleasant area. The 7.1 percent unemployment in Mount Pleasant likely means that Briarcliff Manor is faring better than the Town of Ossining, Nelson said.

“The labor force there is also higher than it’s been in years and the number of employed is the highest it has been since 2009,” Nelson said. “Our industry data is showing that the labor market right now in the whole area is doing very well. The simple fact is that as the good news spreads, people who were totally discouraged are coming back and dusting off those resumes and getting back into it.”

Nelson later noted that the local unemployment rate is below the 9.1 percent reported statewide in July and the nationwide unemployment rate of 8.3 percent.

Eric Messer, president of the Briarcliff Manor Chamber of Commerce, said that employers are having no problem finding workers, but finding skilled workers is becoming more difficult locally.

“People are starting to spend again but as far as increase in the labor market in the trades, we’re not seeing that,” Messer said. “I’m sure someone looking for restaurant employees isn’t seeing a shortage of applicants, but those looking for lawyers or accountants or craftsman, we’re not seeing that. And from what I understand from talking to the county, it’s something that’s happening all over Westchester.”

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