Jefferson County sees some of state’s highest private-sector job growth

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:50 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - When the Covid pandemic shut down the economy in 2020, unemployment rates skyrocketed. Post-pandemic we’ve learned Jefferson County is one of the fastest growing areas in New York state when it comes to bringing back private sector jobs.

“(We have) 3,000 job openings,” said The WorkPlace Executive Director Cheryl Mayforth.

Recent data from the state Department of Labor ranks Jefferson County in the top five of counties where private sector growth is highest. That doesn’t include the New York City area.

From 2021 to 2022, Jefferson County’s private sector jobs grew by 3.9 percent.

“We have some good things happening, especially in the sector of accommodations, food service. We even have some new retail business opening up,” said Mayforth.

She uses the recent opening of Chick-fil-A as an example. The eatery added 120 full- and part-time jobs in late 2022.

With new businesses comes construction. Phil Reed, executive director of the Northern New York Builders Exchange, says there are plenty of construction jobs.”

“Ironically there are not enough skilled tradespeople out there right now to fill the jobs that are there, but it’s good to hear that people that are ready and able to work are filling the positions that are there,” he said.

Reed says part of the need for construction labor, comes from all of the state projects along the waterfront - areas that are being rebuilt after record flooding on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 2017 and 2019.

Outside of that, other big projects are being built, like the new Citizen Advocates clinic on State Street in Watertown and the new downtown Watertown YMCA project.

In comparison, Lewis County saw zero percent private sector job growth from 2021 to 2022. St. Lawrence County’s increase was 1.5 percent.