Local News Headlines
Job growth in February helped push Chautauqua County's jobless rate back under 10-percent. That from state Labor Department Analyst John Slenker who says the number of unemployed residents fell by 300 in February to help lower the rate from 10.1 to 9.6-percent. While the seasonally unadjusted rate remains high... Slenker says there's reason for optimism heading into the Spring. The main one is many job sectors saw gains... while the rest remained even. Slenker adds the number of unemployed people fell by 300. Slenker says the biggest gain was in the 'service providing' sector... where they were 700 more people employed. Other gains seen were 100 in natural resources, mining and construction... and, another 100 in Financial sector. Slenker says the fact there were no losses in ANY sector was good. He adds another reason for optimism is the fact Construction was even over February of 2012... when conditions were better for building. Slenker says the countys's jobless rate was 9.3-percent in January of 2012.
In Cattaraugus County... the unemployment rate was also down from 10.4-percent to 10-percent. Slenker says the job situation there is stable... but, the numbers remain high. The biggest gains were in manufacturing... which was up 100 over the month. Cattaraugus County's jobless rate in February of 2012 was also 10-percent.
Officials have released preliminary data showing the unemployment rate in ALL of upstate New York was 9.2-percent in February. That's unchanged from a year earlier... while the New York City metro area rate dropped to 8.6 percent from 9.1. The state labor department statistics released Tuesday show the rate in upstate metro areas virtually unchanged at 8.8 percent... and, at 10.4 percent in rural areas. The rate in New York City was 9.2 percent, compared to 9.8 percent last year. Tompkins County had the lowest rate at 5.8 percent while Lewis County had the highest, 13 percent. The statewide unemployment rate was 8.4 percent.
An advocacy group says 1.5 million uninsured New Yorkers will be eligible for federal tax credits next year to help offset the cost of health coverage. A report by Families USA notes that the credits for those with incomes ranging from 138-percent to 400-percent of the federal poverty guidelines will go directly to the health plan in which the individual or family enrolls, offsetting their total premiums. A family of four with income up to 94-thousand-200 dollars would be eligible. In concert with President Barack Obama's federal health care overhaul, New York is establishing a health insurance marketplace called an exchange. New York has an estimated 2.7 million uninsured among some 19 million residents.
The Jamestown Republican Committee is looking for potential candidates for next November's city council... and, county legislature races. There has been only ONE contested City Council race in the past two elections... and, GOP Committee Chairman Brent Sheldon is hoping to have more candidates this time around. Sheldon says they're looking for people who believe in the Republican ideals of smaller government... lower taxes... and, less regulation. Sheldon says it's tough to fill a slate lately... but, adds they've already had a couple of interested people contact them. Sheldon says they don't need as many candidates as before for the county legislature from the city because the panel is being downsized from 25 to 19 members. He admits it's been frustrating getting people to run... and, he's not exactly sure why. He says it may be a combination of cost... time... and, apathy. Sheldon says he's pleased to see they already have a couple of people before going public with a call for candidates. If you're interested in running... Sheldon says call him at 483-0004... or e-mail him at Brent_ (underscore) Sheldon@hotmail-dot-COM.
About 200 employees of the New York state Thruway Authority are expected to lose their jobs as part of layoffs announced by the Cuomo administration earlier this year. The Times-Union of Albany reports the toll takers, maintenance employees and clerical workers are being laid-off today. Thruway officials announced in January that 234 workers across the state would be laid off this year to save the authority about 20-million dollars. Some of the targeted workers have retired since the announcement.
Chautauqua County's representative in the U-S House is encouraged by the findings of a study on the proposed re-powering of the NRG plant in Dunkirk. Congressman Tom Reed says the studies of the conversion from coal to natural gas for both the Dunkirk power plant... and, the Cayuga Power Plant in Lansing are good news for ratepayers and taxpayers alike. The 500-million dollar project would create 300 construction jobs alone in the Dunkirk-area. Reed says the re-powering projects would help businesses by stabilizing the tax base in both communities. But... the Corning Republican says he is disappointed that New York is not part of the nation's surge in natural gas production. Reed says he hopes a decision by Governor Cuomo on "fracking" is made "sooner rather than later."