In the GLOW region in June 2020, Genesee County was at 9.5% unemployment, Livingston at 9,3%, Orleans at 10.8% and Wyoming at 8.8%.A year later, the June rates were 4.2 to 5% lower.

“That is absolutely due to the world opening back up again and including businesses. We’ve had some good expansion of some of the businesses. Summer help is potentially happening this year that wasn’t happening last year. It’s a great sign for our local area” said Rosemary Shader, executive director of Community Action of Wyoming County, a contracted agency through the GLOW Workforce Development Board.

Another difference between this June and last June is having no limits on capacity indoors, she said.

Jay Lazarony, executive director of the GLOW Workforce Development Board, said in Genesee County, hotels, restaurants and places such as Darien Lake are working at full capacity.

“How are they (the Department of Labor) calculating the unemployment rate? Does it include those people who are no longer looking for work, who have opted out? Where are those claims coming from? It‘s certainly out of the ordinary for summer,” he said. “We don’t want to see any increase in summer, when .. all these seasonal-type businesses are working.”

Lazarony added, “Signs for help wanted are everywhere. If people want to go to work, they certainly can. That’s what we’re (the Workforce Development Board) here for.”

The GLOW region has seen unemployment rate increases of less than half a percent from May to June this year, but higher decreases from a year ago, the state Department of Labor said when it announced June rates across the state.

The May-to-June increase in Genesee County is from 4.3 to 4.5%; in Livingston County, 4.3 to 4.6%, in Orleans County, 5.1 to 5.5% and in Wyoming County 4.4 to 4.6%.

“If it’s that small a percentage increase, I really don’t know what you could attribute it to. We’re coming out of a pandemic and a shutdown so maybe there’s no explanation for it other than that,” said Lazarony. “When it was rising in March 2020 we knew exactly what was going on.”

Shader said when COVID hit, the unemployment rate was at a historical low.

“The year before, 2019 I think we are at about what the unemployment was at that time,” she said.

“The labor market is really quite hot right now. Especially in our area, they’re (businesses) struggling with the same thing that’s occurring nationally in terms of being able to secure qualified employees,” she said. “I do think there’s a skills gap. I think there’s employers who have lost longtime skilled employees to retirement and then it’s been hard to find people to fill those positions.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1