The job market in the Buffalo Niagara region continued to stumble during November, shedding 1,500 jobs over the last year, the state Labor Department reported Thursday.
The decline was the fourth consecutive monthly drop in the total number of jobs in Buffalo Niagara, although the pace of the drop – at an annual rate of 0.3 percent – remains relatively modest.
But some local economists believe that the jobs data is overstating the scope of the decline and that revised statistics that will be issued in March will show that the region's job market is stronger than the latest figures indicate.
"I think we're probably slowing, but the slowdown may be overstated in these numbers," said John Slenker, the Labor Department's regional economist in Buffalo. "We'll probably see an upward revision."
The statistics released Thursday show that most of the job weakness in Buffalo Niagara during November was centered on goods-producing occupations – primarily local factories and construction – which lost 2.1 percent of their jobs during the last year. At the same time, private-sector services jobs were flat, and government jobs inched up by 0.1 percent.
Construction jobs, which had been a bright spot of the local employment market for more than a year, slid by 3.1 percent over the last year. Factory jobs, which had rebounded sharply after enduring steep declines during the recession, dropped by 1.7 percent.
The weakest spot in the job numbers remained the administrative and support and waste-management category, whose 17 percent plunge has raised questions from Slenker and other local economists about their accuracy.
Those declines, coupled with a 4 percent drop in financial services jobs, were offset by 4 percent growth in education and health services jobs, and growth in the trade and leisure and hospitality sectors that averaged just under 1 percent.
The local job losses stood in stark contrast with the moderate job growth taking place across the country and statewide. Nationally, job growth in November hit 1.4 percent, without adjusting for seasonal factors, while it was slightly weaker in New York, at 1 percent.
Among the state's major metro areas, only Elmira, with a 2.3 percent drop in jobs, Binghamton, with its 1.1 percent decline, and the 0.6 percent slide in Nassau-Suffolk counties were weaker than Buffalo Niagara during November.
The pace of job growth varied widely across rural portions of Western New York, ranging from a 2.1 percent jump in Cattaraugus County to a 0.8 percent decline in Wyoming County. In between, the job market was grew by 0.6 percent in Allegany County, while it improved by 0.5 percent in Genesee County. The number of jobs slid by 0.4 percent in Chautauqua County.
GRAPHIC: JOB TRENDS STATEWIDE
Buffalo Niagara is not among areas with job growth from ?November 2011 to November 2012:
Ithaca 4.2 percent
New York City 1.7 percent
Albany 0.9 percent
Rochester 0.7 percent
Syracuse 0.1 percent
Buffalo Niagara -0.3 percent
Utica-Rome -0.3 percent
Nassau-Suffolk -0.6 percent
Binghamton -1.1 percentElmira -2.3 percent