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Opinion: Schoharie's Unsustainable Unemployment Crisis

Written By Editor on 4/4/14 | 4/4/14


We really don't need to make any case to back up the title of this op-ed piece, as the New York State Department of Labor did that for us in last month's statewide unemployment report that showed Schoharie County is not only at the bottom of our region in terms of employment, but also the entire state.

Facing an uphill battle to address the county's staggering 9.2% rate of unemployment, which accounts for roughly 1,400 local residents out of work, Schoharie County has actually seen the number of employed citizens decline by roughly one hundred compared to the same time last year, with little to no workable solutions to resolve the problem. 

Wherein lies the crux of the situation: Schoharie's long-term working goal to stimulate job growth has publicly relied on luring in an interested entity to either lease or purchase the long-vacant Guilford Mills property in Cobleskill, in hopes of reclaiming hundreds of jobs that were lost in the facility's closure almost thirteen years ago.

Meanwhile, we have watched the $5.3 million partially publicly funded Maranatha Fitness Center rise and fall in the Town of Richmondville, while just a few miles down the road on Route 7 government inaction and community tension contributed to Lowes deciding not to build a store near the existing Wal-Mart supercenter. 

In the end, with our past economic failures hanging over the county's head, our lone salvation to over a decade of chronic economic stagnation may be the proposed Howe Caverns casino, which has split our county's electors and electorate in half since the issue first erupted in February.

However, besides publicly approving the concept of a local casino in their March meeting, the Board of Supervisors can do little but hope New York State chooses Schoharie over Saratoga, and that we reap the economic benefits of expanded gambling while not suffering under the tag-along societal repercussions.

One more alarming factoid from last month's unemployment report: the number of people without work in Schoharie County declined from 1,800 to 1,400 since last year without any corresponding increase in employment, which means either able bodied workers have moved elsewhere in search of jobs, or our neighbors have simply given up.

Either way, something must be done to address what is truly an unsustainable unemployment crisis in this county. We don't have the answers to this, and quite frankly no one might, but maintaining the status quo on economic growth is flat out unacceptable any longer. 
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2 comments:

Administrator said...

Actually, the Bronx has the highest unemployment rate (12%) in the state followed by Hamilton, Lewis and Jefferson counties, though that's no consolation to the unemployed in Schoharie County.

Sam Dunston said...

The proposed Howe Caverns casino might not be a bad thing as long as it is well planned. To start with we don't even have a jail to house the inmates that a casino will generate. There will be an increase in drugs and with that there is a whole list of things that go hand and hand. On the up side we will need pawn shops to lend money to the addictive gamblers,hotels and motels for out of towner's to stay, I think most of the folks that would go to the casino would come into town on a bus trip so maybe a tour company could rise and take people around the county and show off what we have to offer.........witch is what

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