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Orleans has one of highest unemployment rates in upstate

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The former Chase site in Albion closed earlier this month after laying off about 400 people. County officials are optimistic the site will soon be utilized by another company.

New data from the state Department of Labor shows Orleans County has one of the highest unemployment rates in upstate, and the report is based on August numbers, before JPMorgan Chase shut down its Albion call center that employed about 400 people.

Orleans County’s 8.4 percent unemployment rate is only topped in upstate by St. Lawrence County, 9.1 percent; Oswego, 8.8; and Montgomery, 8.5. New York City has an 8.7 percent unemployment rate with Bronx County, at 12.0 percent, the highest in the state.

The job picture in Orleans is worse than similar-size nearby rural counties. Genesee has a 5.8 percent unemployment rate, while Wyoming is at 6.6 and Livingston, 6.7.

Orleans is in much better shape than a year ago when it had an 11.0 percent unemployment rate in August 2012. It’s also slightly better than July 2013 when the rate was 8.5 percent.

Orleans County officials are optimistic the Chase site will soon be reused. I noticed several contractors are working at the site this week. The county’s economic development officials said they can not offer any specifics about the site’s future due to confidentiality agreements.

The site is in good shape and accommodated 1,000 workers only a few years ago. There is also readily accessible parking for several hundreds cars.

State-wide the latest unemployment report shows the private sector job count increased by 126,800 from August 2012 to August 2013. The state’s unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in August 2013 and the economy added 22,700 private sector jobs, bringing the job count to a record high, according to the Department of Labor.