Oswego County has the second-highest unemployment rate in New York state, according to the State Labor Department’s March 13 release of area unemployment rates.
According to the reports, as of January 2012, Oswego County had a 12.5 percent unemployment rate, second only to Bronx County at 13.9 percent. Other counties with high unemployment rates were Lewis, St. Lawrence and Schoharie Counties, all at 12 percent. Counties with the lowest unemployment rate were Putnam and Tompkins Counties both at 6.9 percent.
At 12.5 percent, Oswego County is 3.7 percent higher than the national average and 3.3% higher than the New York state average. The county’s unemployment rate has increased by 2 percent since the end of 2011.
Although unemployment rates are high throughout the U.S., upstate and central New York seem to have been hit harder than most regions. This could be due to a number of different reasons according to Oswego State’s Director for the Office of Business and Community Relations Jeff Grimshaw.
“One of the primary issues is the lack of literacy and math skills in the population as compared to the growing technology needs of business,” Grimshaw said.
Grimshaw also believes that the county and most of upstate New York is falling behind due to the lack of transportation services in parts of the county, and lack of high-speed Internet. All of these issues make it hard for Oswego County to compete against larger population centers for state, federal and private dollars.
Grimshaw believes that there is a tremendous effort being but forth by local agencies, government and non-profit organizations to address these issues. Grimshaw works with a number of organizations all around the county, including the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Leadership Oswego County, and Workforce Development Board of Oswego County, which are all helping to bring jobs back and boost the economy.
The Workforce Development Board is working with larger industries to advertise through its Career Center to create a one-stop shopping center for talented job seekers.
The SBDC is working to launch an e-commerce center in Fulton to help displaced workers. Grimshaw and the organizations work with hundreds of startup businesses a year.
Grimshaw is also working with the county to help them realize what a resource Oswego State could be.