Livingston County employment outlier, result of campus contributions to economy

Despite general trends in upstate New York that cause higher unemployment rates, Livingston County has experienced lower unemployment rates differing from other upstate counties.

The national unemployment rate has been decreasing, and as of August is at 4.4 percent. New York State’s unemployment rate as of August is 4.9 percent, whereas Livingston County’s rate as of August is 4.5 percent, according to an email from Employment Counselor at the Livingston County Workforce Development John C. Jaeger. 

One main cause for Livingston County’s relatively lower unemployment rates is its location in the Finger Lakes region, which has generated tourism, according to a special report on the Finger Lakes Region from the Office of the New York State Comptroller.

In addition, the local student population and the college have both contributed significantly to the local economy, according to Associate Director for Internships at the Department of Career Development Rob DiCarlo.

“I don’t think there’d be much of anything in Geneseo if it weren’t for SUNY Geneseo,” DiCarlo said. “I don’t think we would have all the diverse stores and shops right on Main Street ... there just wouldn’t be the population here to support those types of businesses.”

Along with the decline in unemployment, especially among students, the biggest obstacle for students finding employment while at school is transportation, according to Community Outreach Assistant & Student Employment Service Coordinator Paula McClure. McClure argued that since most campus workers were work-study students, those looking for employment should look off-campus.  

College students working while on campus help contribute to the local economy, according to DiCarlo. DiCarlo believes students take on employment opportunities that local workers generally would not want. 

“You guys come in, spend your money, you do internships, you add a lot of value and not just monetary value, but diversity and things like that,” DiCarlo said. “It’s not necessarily a problem of students coming in, staying for four years and then leaving, as long as there’s a steady supply of people to take students’ places.” 

Issues with unemployment do not present much concern to the student population while they’re here at Geneseo, in DiCarlo’s opinion.

“Part of it is just anxiety about graduating and finding a suitable job and settling into a career; it doesn’t necessarily reflect the strength of the economy,” DiCarlo said. “If you look at the placement rates … Geneseo students tend to do remarkably well. They are getting into good graduate programs, which obviously is different than employment, but the majority of our students are finding jobs that in their opinion are career related.”

Additionally, the Office of Student Employment hosts annual job fairs to connect students with potential employers, according to McClure, while the Office of Career Development offers professional assistance to help students find internships and postgraduate programs.

The thought of future employment opportunities does not concern every student; many are more concerned about the current resources provided for on campus employment.

“I went on Knight Jobs multiple times, and sent out applications [through Knight Jobs] and then on top of that had to call individual departments to ask if they were hiring [because] not everything on Knight Jobs is always updated,” education major sophomore Brooke Francis said. “I just think that the school needs to do a better job with offering on campus employment, not just for work study. Not every person on campus has transportation available to get to an off campus job.”u