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There ARE Jobs

In Select Fields,

Conference Told

Jobs are available locally, but the workforce to fill them is shrinking through shrinking population and pending retirements, Christian Harris, state Department of Labor analyst, tells at Workforce Summit underway today at The Otesaga. (Jim Kevlin/

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

Cooperstown Central school board President Marcy Birch, also a businesswoman, and Superintendent Bill Crankshaw listen intently to Harris’ presentation. In the background is Mary Joe Ferrare of the Workforce Development Institute.

COOPERSTOWN – The good news is, if you want a job as a registered nurse, retail supervisor of information security analyst around here, you’ve got it.

The bad news is, young people aren’t participating in the workforce as before, and people generally are leaving the area.

Overall, if you really want to work, go into the hospital and healthcare fields.

That was the news Christian Harris, state Department of Labor analyst for the region that includes Otsego County, shared with 70 attendees at a Workforce Summit underway today at The Otesaga, co-sponsored by the Otsego Chamber of Commerce and State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.

Nine presentations are planned on topics ranging from apprenticeship grants, to the opioid crisis and the workforce, to work-based learning.  The day ends with an hour-long group discussion at 2:30 on the topic, “Talent Recruiting, Retention and Pipeline Development.”

ONC BOCES’ Monica Towne questions Harris after his presentation in The Otesaga’s Fenimore Room.

In his presentation, Harris noted:

  • Jobs have grown in Otsego County from 16,800 in 1990 to 20,600, but today’s number is about the same as it was before the 2008 recession. “The state and nation are moving forward a lot more strongly,” he said.
  • Healthcare and education sectors are the biggest by far, the third being personal services – he mentioned auto garage and nail salons. Healthcare is also the fastest growing. The fourth sector, manufacturing, offers 1,186 jobs, only 85 more than five years ago.
  • The unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, “a very good rate,” well-below the Great Recession’s 2010 level of 6.7 percent.
  • That is due, in part, to a 12 percent drop in the workforce, with 3,600 few people in Otego County available to take jobs. “That’s a huge damper for anyone who wants to grow their business,” he said.
  • Addtionally, 21,244 workers intend to retire soon, and Millennials – young people, there are 12,729 locally – “are participating less in the workforce than before.”
  • There’s a “huge list” of “barriers to entry,” from a criminal record, to disabilities to drug use. “All those need to be rethought by employers,” he said, noting that often “skill sets are not a perfect match.”
State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, conference co-sponsor, reflects on what he’s hearing.

Here are the other areas Harris listed with the most available jobs – LPNs, software developers, tractor-trailer drivers, and supervisors in food-serving operations.

For a recap of today’s conference, revisit later this afternoon.


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