The Ithaca metropolitan area's unemployment rate has tripled in April 2020 year to year compared to April 2019, according to numbers released from the New York State Department of Labor.
The area's unemployment rate now sits at 10.1 percent, a stark increase from the 3.2 percent seen in April 2019. The March unemployment numbers, presumably reported before the full effects of the early stages of the coronavirus had been realized, showed the Ithaca metropolitan area's unemployment rate at 3.7 percent. In the last month, the unemployment rate has risen 6.4 percent.
The bright side, if there is one to be had, is that Ithaca's unemployment still ranks as one of the better figures statewide. The unemployment locally is the lowest in the state, as the average of metro areas in New York is 15.1 percent, up from 3.6 percent at the same point in 2019.
New York State's unemployment rate in April was 14.5 percent in April, a 10.4 percent increase from March.
Showing the vast and intense effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ithaca's 9.1 percent increase also represents the lowest in the state. The worst increase was Buffalo-Niagara Falls, which suffered a 15.3 percent increase, putting it at nearly 20 percent of all workers unemployed.
The April figures obviously do not take into account the gradual re-opening of the state, which began in the Southern Tier region, including Ithaca and Tompkins County, on May 15. It remains to be seen if the region will be approved to move into Phase II of the reopening schedule, potentially as soon as the end of this week. If and how that change impacts unemployment may serve as a harbinger for the economic recovery of the area. New York began it's shutdown, known as New York On Pause, on March 20 by executive order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
A press release on May 21 from the Department of Labor further illustrated the weight of the outbreak's burden on the job market. Ithaca lost 9,500 non-farming jobs (private sector and government) in April 2020 compared to April 2019, representing a 14.4 percent decrease. That included 9,200 just in the private sector. Overall, the state lost 1.895 million non-farming jobs, good for a 19.4 percent drop year-over-year.