Jobs in the Hudson Valley: Where companies are hiring as unemployment drops

Unemployment rates are at the lowest points they've been in recent years across the seven counties of the Mid Hudson Valley.

But that doesn't mean all the good jobs have been taken, according to experts in the field.

"If you want a job, you can get a job," said Stephen Knob, director of employment and training for Orange County.

The county held its most recent job fair in October, and about 80 employers and more than 400 job seekers showed up.

Employers covered the gamut, from health care and nursing facilities, to manufacturers and distributors, and federal and state correctional facilities. Even the U.S. Postal Service was looking to hire some as its busy holiday season approaches.

There were also representatives of the Resorts World Casino that is soon to open in the Newburgh Mall.

Stephen Knob, Orange County director of employment and training, at his office in Goshen on November 30, 2022.
Stephen Knob, Orange County director of employment and training, at his office in Goshen on November 30, 2022.

And that's with a county unemployment rate that's now down to 2.4% as of October.

"In 30 years, I can't remember it being under 3%," Knob said. " Maybe for a while during the 1990s."

The unemployment rate, which at times during the pandemic was considerably higher in all counties in the region, is now between 2% and 3% across the board.

According to the state Department of Labor, between October of 2021 and October of 2022, the unemployment rate fell:

  • from 3.4% to 2.1% in Rockland;

  • from 3.5% to 2.2% in Dutchess and Ulster;

  • from 3.2% to 2.2% in Putnam;

  • from 3.7% to 2.3% in Westchester;

  • and from 3.7% to 2.4% in Orange and Sullivan.

Thom Kleiner, executive director of the Westchester-Putnam Workforce Development Board, said while the numbers are a positive sign, they are also misleading on one point.

"It's deceptive because they don't reflect those who have stopped looking for work," Kleiner said. An unemployment rate measures those without a job who are actively looking for work, not simply all adults who are not employed.

Kleiner said health care was one of the top job categories for which people have been looking for training in the regions he covers, along with medical coding and digital literacy.

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Push to assist those with disabilities

Westchester this fall also held the first in what it hopes will be a series of job fairs addressing a specific need: unemployment among those with disabilities, a group that has a high unemployment rate nationwide.

Known as the Diverse Abilities Job Fair, it got off to a promising start, with more than 125 job seekers coming who could not only interview for jobs on the spot but also make potential employers aware of whatever accommodations they would need.

It drew a wide range of employers: Amazon, CVS, New York-Presbyterian, ShopRite, Southern Westchester BOCES, and the county's Department of Social Services.

High school students also attended, including the A-Team Program from Roosevelt High School, which includes diversely abled students from ages 14 to 21.

Evan Latainer, director of Westchester County's Office of People with Disabilities, said when the first fair was held earlier this fall, "We want to continue to provide our diversely abled community a chance to be in the room where it all happens and the opportunity to showcase their unique job skills, all while giving local businesses support to hire an untapped resource here in the county."

Kleiner said the next Diverse Abilities Jobs Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb . 27 at the White Plains Library.

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What jobs are being added?

Overall, the Hudson Valley Region saw a growth of 32,300 jobs in the private sector from October 2021 to October 2022, an increase of 4.2% to 799,700 total jobs., according to Johny Nelson, the labor department's regional analyst,

And there was growth in six of the seven employment categories recognized by the department.

Professional and business services jobs saw the largest increase, with 9.100 jobs added from October of 2021 to October of 2022.

That was followed in descending order by education and health services, which added 8,300 jobs; leisure and hospitality — a category that was especially decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic — which added 7,600 jobs; natural resources, mining and construction, which added 5,200 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, which added 900 jobs; and the vaguely-titled "other services," which added 2,700 jobs.

The only category of jobs to post a loss was financial services, which saw a drop of 1,600. That same category has stood alone as the only one to post losses in several other recent quarters.

Mike Randall covers breaking news for the Times Herald-Record, the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Journal News-lohud. Reach him at mrandall@gannett.com or on Twitter @mikerandall845.

This article originally appeared on Rockland/Westchester Journal News: Hudson Valley jobs growing, unemployment drops; what to know