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Unemployment up in Greene, Columbia counties

Sep 09, 2020 5:45 am
Kate Lisa is reporting for Johnson Newspaper Corp. unemployment numbers in Greene and Columbia counties spiked during the month of July as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy continued to be felt. Columbia County reported the state’s third-lowest jobless rate in July at 9.9 percent but that rate was up from 8.8 percent the month before. F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation, said he could not explain the reason for the downward surge as businesses continued to reopen. “The true test will be when they see the third quarter sales tax numbers,” he said. “...There are still a significant number of county residents out of work. As business owners continue to ramp up in response to growing demand for their goods and services, hopefully those out of work will return to their jobs,” he added. More than 85 percent of Columbia County establishments are classified as small businesses. Tucker said local small business owners continue to be among the most deeply affected. “We’re particularly seeing difficulties for restaurant and retail owners,” he said. In July, Greene County reported 12.6 percent unemployment, up from 11.4 percent in June, according to the state Department of Labor. The county boasted record lows of 3.6 percent in September and October 2018. The rate peaked in April during the COVID-19 emergency at 14.8 percent. “That, obviously, is troubling; every sector in the economy was pumping in February,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said, attributing the unemployment spike to the state’s shutdown this spring. “The economy was just on fire, and I have to wonder how is there still a fire there — if I can get this number down. ... I have to get the tourism industry back.” Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.