New York starts to reopen, but so far it has limited impact on unemployment

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ALBANY, NY (WSYR-TV) — As New York is about to enter Phase 2 of its reopening plan, there are new reminders Thursday that the economy has a long way to go before getting back to normal.

Thursday the U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 2.1 million people filed initial claims for unemployment insurance, bringing the total to more than 41 million people who have lost jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Wednesday, the New York State Department of Labor released its local unemployment rates for the month of April, and the Syracuse metro area, which includes Onondaga, Madison, and Oswego counties had an unemployment rate of 16.3 % in April. A year ago that rate was 3.8 %.

Central New York went from an economy where 290,700 people had jobs in the three-county area in April of last year, and 11,600 were unemployed, to one where 251,800 were employed and 48,900 were without a job.

The numbers aren’t too much different across New York, but the Syracuse area is one of the three hardest-hit, along with the Watertown-Fort Drum area and Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island.

The Ithaca metro area has the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 10.1 %, followed by Westchester-Rockland -Orange counties and New York City.

State governments across the country have struggled to process and pay unemployment claims to the 41 million people who lost their jobs since the crisis began in mid-March.

Last week the New York State Labor Department reported it had reduced backlogged cases to around 75-hundred, and that it had processed two million applications and paid out $10-billion in claims.

We have also started to hear from viewers who are being called back to work but have concerns about returning because of underlying medical issues or other circumstances.

We have reached out to the labor department for clarification.

The department says it is working on it.

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