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The Buffalo Niagara region’s job market heated up with the spring temperatures.

The region added jobs at a 0.8 percent annual pace during April – 4,600 jobs in all – as the local job market grew at its fastest rate since August, the state Labor Department said Thursday.

The accelerated job growth during April – which was more than double the annualized increases in February and March – were an encouraging sign for an employment market that had cooled markedly since last summer and was adding jobs at a tepid pace since December.

“The numbers looked quite favorable,” said Tammy Marino, the Labor Department’s regional economist in Rochester.

Much of the strength came from strong hiring by local hotels and restaurants, which now have 6 percent more workers than they did a year ago.

“It looks like seasonal hiring started a little early and was a little stronger than expected,” Marino said.

That seasonal boost was aided by a more than 5 percent jump in hiring by temporary help agencies – a sign that more employers may be cautiously starting to expand their workforce, she said.

Those gains, however, offset weakness in construction, where hiring was down by almost 8 percent from a year ago, and a nearly 2 percent drop in government jobs, with most of the decline coming from local schools.

But even with the April pickup in hiring, the Labor Department data showed that hiring in the Buffalo Niagara job market remains much weaker than the growth across New York and nationwide. The region’s 0.8 percent growth rate was half of the national job-growth rate of 1.6 percent during April and well below the statewide gains of 1.4 percent.

All of the growth locally came from the private sector, which offset job cuts by cash-strapped government agencies. The region’s private-sector employers added 6,400 jobs during April, a 1.4 percent annual increase. But even that growth was much slower than the 2 percent national growth in private-sector jobs and the 1.9 percent increase statewide, which pushed the state’s private-sector payrolls to a record high.

The region’s job growth ranked as the eighth-fastest among the state’s 14 major metropolitan areas during April, topping only Binghamton, Utica, Albany, Rochester and Putnam-Rockland-Westchester counties.

Overall job growth in Buffalo Niagara was slightly stronger than the 0.5 percent increase across all of the 52 counties in upstate New York. And the increase in private-sector hiring locally also topped the 1 percent increase throughout upstate, the Labor Department said.

E.J. McMahon, the senior fellow of the Albany-based Empire Center for New York State Policy, said the job data “continues to relate a tale of two states,” with job growth downstate outstripping the nation while upstate lags behind.

The Labor Department also said job growth locally was slightly stronger during March than initially reported. Revised data from the Labor Department showed that the region added 600 more jobs during March than first reported, boosting the job-growth rate for March to an annualized 0.4 percent from the 0.3 percent in the preliminary figures.

Job growth was mixed across the rural counties of Western New York. The bright spot was Wyoming County, which had 2.3 percent more jobs than it did a year ago, while Cattaraugus County added jobs at a 0.9 percent annual pace. But Chautauqua County’s job growth was just 0.2 percent, while employment was flat in Allegany County. Genesee County lost jobs at a 1.4 percent annual pace.

Encouraging signs

Rates of job growth for Buffalo Niagara and other metropolitan areas from April 2012 to April 2013:

Ithaca +2.3%

Nassau-Suffolk +2.2%

New York City +2.0%

Syracuse +1.1%

Buffalo Niagara +0.8 %

Rochester +0.5%

Albany +0.3%

Utica-Rome -0.2%

Binghamton -0.8%

Source: State Labor Department

email: drobinson@buffnews.com