Spotlight on the economy: The worker shortage | Business Local

The unemployment rate across Buffalo Niagara is down to 4.3%. Normally, that would be cause to celebrate.

Unemployment is down because the local labor force – made up of people with jobs and those looking for one – is about 3% smaller than it was before the pandemic. That’s a loss of 17,000 potential workers – and that’s a big deal. It means local businesses have fewer options when they go to hire, and it means they have to compete even more intensely with other firms to land a new worker, driving up wages and benefits.

In today’s market, workers really do have the upper hand. That is a sea change from most of the past decade, when workers were plentiful and businesses had most of the bargaining power. Last month, the number of unemployed people was at its lowest level for any March in at least 32 years.

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