Statistics released this week by the New York State Department of Labor contained points of pride for both Greene and Columbia counties, although the news for Greene County is more clearly positive.
The department’s press release includes a table showing the number of employed persons, the number of unemployed and the unemployment rate in each county in January 2014 and in January 2015. Greene County showed the highest job growth outside of New York City from January 2014 to January 2015 with 200 more people employed during the year.
Warren Hart, the Greene County director of economic development, tourism and planning, said Greene County’s success in job growth was mostly attributable to leisure, hospitality and tourism businesses.
Hart said the developments are largely due to the work of the county’s Tourism Advisory Committee and Business Advisory Committee.
“Our Tourism Advisory Committee works to execute our tourism advising and marketing,” Hart said. “They select priority projects that work toward bringing more visitors here and visitor spending, which strengthens our tourism business and provides for job growth and income for those jobs.”
Hart said the business committee includes small businesses and chambers of commerce and has an advertising campaign for the Hudson Valley and New York-metro area.
Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said the decreased unemployment rate is great news, but can be misleading with the county’s 7 percent rate.
“Our unemployment rates were so high to begin with that this ‘highest job growth in the state’ is a misnomer,” Groden said. “We don’t deny that an underlying issue is still there, but this is still great news."
Groden said he wants people to remember that Greene County is a tourism-based community.
“You have to play your strengths,” Groden said. “Because we’re centered in the tourism industry, we’re the last to rise up and the first to fall down, depending on the economy. It’s our weakness and our strength, but it’s very difficult to change your suit. We are what we are, and we can’t ignore it. We have to work with what we’ve got, and I think we’re doing a great job of that.”