So, it seems, we're right back to where we started in the dark days of 1984.
You remember. We were reeling from the closing of Bethlehen Steel, etc. Unemployment was bad. Times were beyond tough, they were desperate.
Well, as David Robinson reports today, it's deja vu all over again.
The Buffalo Niagara region’s unemployment rate shot up to a 25-year-high of 9.6 percent during February, as nearly 11,000 local jobs vanished over the last year, the state Labor Department said Thursday.
“Across the board, we have a lot of weakness,” said John Slenker, the labor department’s regional economist in Buffalo.
The job losses were widespread throughout all portions of the local economy, with particularly steep declines at local factories, where more than 5 percent of the region’s manufacturing jobs have disappeared over the last year. But service-providing jobs also took a hit, with the loss of 8,400 of those jobs, from banking to retail and hospitality.
The only job gains over the last year came from government agencies, as well as a tiny increase in private-sector management work.
Yes, let me repeat: "The only job gains over the last year came from government agencies ..."
The region is taking a harder hit than anywhere else in the state. Our employment base is down 2 percent over the past year. Rochester, by comparison, is down 0.3 percent. Heck, Utica is holding up better than us. Utica.
Put another way, we've been down so long, that Appalachia looks like up to us. (With apologies to Jim Morrison. And Utica.)
It's a good thing we have all those wildly successful economic development programs in place to help get us out of this fix.