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Bronx jobless rate down, but still highest in the state

Bronx Times

The Bronx once again this month carried the dubious title of having the highest jobless rate in the state.

New September figures released by the state Department of Labor show 12.1% of the borough population still without work.

The good news out of the bleak picture, however, is that the numbers dropped by a full 1% from 13.1% in August, putting 3,000 residents back to work.

The numbers also show the jobless rate is down .4% from the same time last year.

“September is usually a month when you see gains in employment,” said Jim Brown, NYSDOL spokesman.

He credited the dip to a spike in seasonal hiring last month when retail, leisure and hospitality sectors hired more.

But the figures, positive or not, have remained stubbornly high compared to the rest of the state, a trend Brown links to the Bronx’s overall level of education.

“A significant portion of the population has lower educational attainments,” said Brown.

He pointed to figures from the U.S. Census Data’s American Community Survey, showing fewer Bronxites with a college degree or more.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. did not speak directly to the depressing job numbers, but stressed that his office continues to try to put a dent in the problem by creating jobs with help from the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

“My office has worked to create jobs for the people of the borough by welcoming new companies,” said Diaz, pointing to a number of projects.

So far there are plans to expand the Bay Plaza Mall and Hutch Metro Center. Plans are in the works to move FreshDirect on-line food distributors operations to the borough, as well as bring in a BJ’s Wholesale Club, touting thousands of jobs.

To further combat the high jobless rate, city and Bronx officials have opened two new job search facilities, called Workforce 1 Career Centers, at Fordham Place and at the Bronx Terminal Market,

Job seekers can stop by to polish their resume, pick up interviewing skills and screen for jobs at the site’s computer lab.

Kimara Aikulola, a recently laid off insurance agent, has taken advantage of the Fordham office, updating her resume.

“I need it to be done professional,” said Aikulola. “I can’t do that on my own, it’s a job in itself.”

It’s also working for Edgar Ayala of Tremont, a trained social worker out of a job for the past two years. After failing to find work on his own, Ayala turned to Workforce 1.

“Any door that’s opened to help me seek employment,” he said, “is what I’m doing.”

Reach reporter David Cruz at 718-742-3383 or dcruz@cnglocal.com.

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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