February 15, 2012

Steadying The Local Job Market

By: Scott Pukos, Staff Writer

Source: Messenger Post News

Scott Hegarty of Geneva said his job search has been going on for three months.

Even in a county with a typically steady employment rate, for many job hunters, getting hired is no easy feat.

“I’ve been looking all over the eastern seaboard (for jobs),” said Hegarty, who formerly worked in the customer service industry. “I would like to stay in this area, though.”

He may be able to keep his status as an Ontario County resident, after taking advantage of a recent two-week session.

Finding employment
Hegarty recently graduated from a two-week program — developed partly by Finger Lakes Community College and the Smart System Technology and Commercialization Center in Canandaigua — that trains residents for level one cleanroom jobs.

A cleanroom is a sterile environment where employees are required to wear specialized suits. Industries that utilize the cleanroom technology include those involving sensitive high-technology equipment, such as for making components for smart phones, medical devices and military equipment.

Hegarty said he knows the training is just the beginning.

“This is starting at the ground floor,” he said. “I’m looking for something stable.”

Michael Richmond of Keuka Park also completed the program. He’s been looking for employment since the summer and said programs like the FLCC training sessions can — at least in a small way — help people find employment.

“Programs like that definitely help because they teach people,” Richmond said. “You can get good, solid fundamental training.”

The local climate
While Ontario County had a considerably lower unemployment rate than many other places in New York for the majority of 2011, that trend took a negative turn in December.

The December rate was 7.4 percent, up from 6.3 percent in November.

Brian Young, the director of Ontario County Workforce Development, said he was surprised by the increase.

“We went from being one of the best in the state to not so much,” Young said.

Looking forward
Despite the December increase, Young said there is still reason for optimism for those seeking jobs in Ontario County.

“We have a diverse economy,” he said, adding that the area is particularly strong in the healthcare field due to the three hospitals in the area.

Unemployment numbers can be skewed in some cases, Young added, but he didn’t feel that is the case for the county.

“People sometimes go off unemployment because they get discouraged and stop looking for work,” Young said. “However, we haven’t seen an increase in welfare in the area.”

It’s typical to see an increase in unemployment during the winter months, particularly with a lack of seasonal employment, Young said. It’s “cyclical,” he said, and the unemployment rate usually decreases again during the spring.