The Rochester region and the state overall saw steep job losses in April

May 26, 2020

Credit WXXI photo

Recent numbers from the New York State Labor Department show a big downturn in jobs in the Rochester area.

While that’s not a surprise, given the pandemic, one local expert sees some hope for the future.

The monthly job numbers for the Rochester metro and most of the state have shown consistent job growth for several years. But that trend ended in April, with the arrival of the coronavirus, which shuttered many small businesses.

The Rochester area saw a 21.3% decline in private sector jobs compared to a year ago.  New York state labor officials say a lot of the job losses were due to layoffs in the leisure and hospitality sector.

At the Center For Governmental Research in Rochester, Chief Economist Kent Gardner said that it will take a while, but he does look for there to be a rebound eventually.

“I think it’s going to take us a long time to dig out from what has happened to us over the last couple of months. At the same time I’m confident that most of the businesses, the core employment in the community is going to pop back. We have some very healthy companies in Rochester who still have a good business model.

Gardner points to companies like L3Harris Technologies and Paychex, as just two examples of local companies that have strong fundamentals.

Gardner believes the restaurant industry will come back eventually after a vaccine is developed, but he does expect many of the smaller businesses to have difficulty surviving until then.

“Once again it’s a question of whether individual firms survive, or whether the industry, the sector continues. And again I’m optimistic that the sector as a whole will bounce back, but certainly there will be a lot of small firms going away,” Gardner said.

Statewide, the April numbers show that the number of private sector jobs decreased by 21.4% compared to a year ago. That was the state’s largest monthly employment drop on record.

It represents a loss of more than 1.7 million private sector jobs over the last year.

The statewide unemployment rate rose to 14.5% compared to a 4% unemployment rate a year ago.

Regional jobless rates will be out this week.