OLEAN — Around one in 10 area jobs was lost between April 2019 and April 2020 — most attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic — according to the state Department of Labor.

The DOL on Thursday issued preliminary data for April 2020, noting that Cattaraugus County saw a 9.6% decrease in total non-farm jobs, dropping from 30,200 to 27,300. In Allegany County, the number of employed dropped around 1,800 to 13,400 — an 11.8% decrease — between April 2019 and April 2020.

In Cattaraugus and Allegany counties many of the largest employers remained open, including Upper Allegheny Health System (Olean General Hospital), University of Rochester Medicine (Jones Memorial Hospital) and Dresser-Rand. In addition, the majority of government jobs — including state, county and municipal posts — were maintained despite limits on the number of workers allowed to be outside of their homes capped at 50%.

The region fared better than many others in the state. The state’s 15 metropolitan areas all reported higher job losses, reaching as high as 22% in the Orange-Rockland-Westchester area for total non-farm jobs and 24.6% in private sector jobs.

Statewide, the unemployment rate rose from 4.1% in March to 14.5% in April. Outside of New York City, the rate rose from 4.2% to 14.7% — matching the national unemployment rate.

Data on county-level unemployment rates has not been released yet for April, typically coming out the Tuesday after regional and statewide jobs data is announced.

The DOL reported in April that the March 2020 unemployment rate was 6.6% in both Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties, but that data was for the week before the New York on Pause executive order was signed.

Nationwide figures set records in April. The unemployment rate increased by 10.3 points to 14.7% — the highest rate and largest monthly increase since modern records started being kept in 1948. The number of unemployed persons rose by 15.9 million to 23.1 million in April, with the BLS noting the pandemic was the primary reason.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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