The Hudson Valley regional labor market continues to be supportive of job seekers as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now job seekers have the advantage because employers are looking for them,” said Sharon Williams, director of employment and training for the Ulster County Workforce Development Board.
“Travel along any major road – Route 9 in Dutchess County, Route 300 in Orange and Ulster Counties – and there are ‘help wanted’ signs everywhere,” a- she added.
Employers and potential employees seem to approach their respective searches with confidence and enthusiasm.
“We have a lot of openings,” said Regina Thomas, executive director of talent acquisition at Regeneron, a Tarrytown-based biotech company.
She added that candidates held more job offers than in the past.
“This year in particular, it’s been really tough,” Thomas said. “It’s a very, very competitive market. Our acceptance rate has gone down a bit.”
Katherine Meyer, a recent graduate of Iona College in New Rochelle, where she studied business management and marketing, has just started a job at NBCUniversal, which she was able to secure with the help of an alumnus. Iona.
“A lot of professors and people in the workforce were saying it was time for young professionals, and I really felt that,” Meyer said.
Alison Carson, who oversees Manhattanville College’s Center for Career Development in Purchase, said recent graduates have had success finding jobs.
“It’s an uncertain time there, though, as a result of COVID,” Carson said. “Work can be remote, students can live in completely different states or even countries from where they work. We all know gas prices are going up. All of these things can be uncertain and anxiety-provoking for our students.”
For STEM graduates who have studied science, technology, engineering or math, the opportunities are plentiful right now, said Mark Weinstock, professor of economics at Pace University.
“I’ve never seen a better job market in my life,” he said. “In terms of internships and jobs, if you can’t get one now, you’re dead from the neck down. Salaries are skyrocketing that I never expected to see in the foreseeable future.”
Orange County’s most recent job fair, held earlier this month at the Galleria at Crystal Run in Middletown, attracted more than 80 employers and likely close to 250 job seekers, according to Stephen Knob, county director of employment and training.
“In the current environment, it’s pretty good,” Knob said.
To help fill positions, especially entry-level jobs, Knob said some employers are lowering or relaxing their standards on things like the level of education required.
This helps pave the way to employment for groups that have historically faced barriers to obtaining employment, including those who have served time in prison and people with disabilities.
All industries in the Southeast New York area saw significant employment growth in the 12 months ending February 2022, according to Department of Labor market analyst Johny Nelson. of State.
The strongest growth in private sector employment occurred in Ulster County, officially known as the Kingston Metropolitan Statistical Area. Employment there increased by 7.8% year-on-year.
The second fastest growth was in Sullivan County, where employment grew 4.9%. The Dutchess-Putnam area rose 4.4% and the Orange-Rockland-Westchester labor market was just behind at 4.3%.
Nelson said seven of the nine employment sectors have seen an increase in the number of jobs available, with the largest number, 14,400, coming from leisure and hospitality, which has been one of the hardest hit areas. affected when the pandemic forced many businesses considered non-essential to close. down.
This was followed by 6,200 additional jobs in trade, transport and public services; 4,400 additional jobs in other services; 4,000 additional jobs in professional and business services; 2,000 jobs added in natural resources, mining and construction; 1,800 additional manufacturing jobs; and 1,000 information jobs.
The only sectors to lose jobs are education and health services, down 600, and financial services, down 200, according to Nelson.
The Westchester Medical Center Health Network, which has facilities throughout the Hudson Valley, is growing, however, with openings in the area, said Kelly Soldano, the network’s vice president of human resources operations. This includes building a new pediatric inpatient unit at MidHudson Regional Hospital in Poughkeepsie and planning for a “reimagined” HealthAlliance hospital in Kingston.
With that growth comes more job opportunities, Soldano said, and “we’re getting qualified applicants, we’re getting people applying, so that’s always a good sign for the job market.”
The overall increase in available jobs in the region leads to a significant drop in the unemployment rate for the region as a whole. From April 2021 to April 2022, the Hudson Valley’s overall unemployment rate fell to 2.9% from 5.1%.
Broken down by county, the year-over-year figures are as follows: Dutchess County, down 4.8% to 2.8%; Orange County, down 5.1% to 3%; Putnam County, down 4.5% to 2.7%; Rockland County, down 2.6% from 4.7%; Sullivan County, down to 3.1% from 5.4%; Ulster County, down 5% to 2.9%; and Westchester County, down to 3% from 5.3%.
While Department of Labor figures showed growth in the number of jobs available in recreation and hospitality, Loreen J. Gebelein, director of the Sullivan County Workforce Development Center , said many hotels, restaurants and other businesses are still struggling to fill those positions.
And that, in turn, “takes a toll on people who continue to work,” Gebelein said, as they are forced to work long hours.
The shortage of available labor in the leisure and hospitality industry has been felt across the region, from Sullivan County to Westchester County. Reasons given for the continued shortage range from workers not yet ready to return to work indoors to their jobs in other areas during the long shutdown.
Gebelein noted that something else has changed since the start of the pandemic that could impact the labor market: the current state of the economy.
With gas prices skyrocketing and inflation at its highest level in 40 years, Gebelein said job seekers may find themselves considering how far a potential job is from their home when they decide to take it.
Gebelein said some are probably wondering, “Will the money I’m going to earn be enough to pay all the bills?”
Knob noted that there is an upcoming development that has yet to impact the labor market but will soon: The youngest members of the baby boomer generation are approaching the age of retirement.
And when that happens, and all the baby boomers have retired, the impact will be huge, he said.
“We don’t have the population numbers (in later generations) to fill those jobs,” Knob said.
Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, Poughkeepsie Journal and Journal News/lohud. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @MikeRandall845