ALBANY, N.Y. — New York's unemployment rate continues to fall to a record low, but some regions of the state are still struggling a decade removed from the financial crisis.
The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in November, the lowest of any year on record dating back to 1976, according to the state's Labor Department, which released its monthly report Thursday.
But a new report from the Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think-tank based in Albany, attributes the low unemployment numbers in part to an exodus from upstate municipalities and shows the state lagging behind the national average in private sector job growth.
Job growth, according to the report, was a tale of two New Yorks: upstate and downstate.
Seventy-nine percent of New York's private sector jobs created in the last year were in or around the New York City area, including the Hudson Valley the report said. Cities and counties upstate struggled to keep pace, with places like Elmira actually losing jobs.
The report comes days after new census data revealed New York lost over 48,000 residents over the past year and less than a week before minimum wage in the state is set to increase for the third time in as many years.
Some have argued the cost of living and the price of doing business in the state have become too burdensome.
Others, like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, dismiss such claims, pointing to the more than 1 million private sector jobs created under his administration — leading to a record number of jobs in the state.
“New York State’s labor market continued to expand in November as the state added 5,200 private sector jobs to reach a new, all-time high employment count," said Bohdan Wynnyk, director of the labor department's research division.
"At the same time, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 4.0 percent to 3.9 percent in November, reaching its lowest level on record.”
See the New York counties that lost the most population from 2010-2017, based on Census Bureau estaimates Wochit
New York's increase in jobs in November brought the state's private sector market to just over 8.2 million, a new all-time high, the labor department said.
Also, the number of unemployed New Yorkers fell in November, from 387,500 to 379,400, its lowest level since August 1988.
The state added 114,600 private-sector jobs on a year-over-year basis, according to the Empire Center. That's a rate of 1.4 percent, half a percentage point behind the national average.
A majority of these jobs, about 72,500, were created in New York City, where the private sector has grown at a rate of 1.8 percent.
Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley added 18,100 jobs, with Dutchess and Putnam counties matching the national growth rate of 1.9 percent, the group said.
Ithaca, according to the Empire Center report, saw the greatest gains in private-sector jobs this past year, nearly tripling the state's average.
In all, Ithaca added over 1,900 private sector jobs since last November. That's a rate of 3.3 percent.
Other Southern Tier municipalities didn't fare as well, with Binghamton failing to add any private sector jobs since last November, and Elmira seeing a 1 percent decline, losing 300 private sector jobs.
Rochester, saw a less than 1 percent gain in private sector growth, adding 3,500 jobs since last year.