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Government jobs declining as budgets shrink

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Cuts from the school house to the state house are making government work a less stable line of employment.

Government job cuts
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that working in the public sector no longer promises stability, as school districts, counties, and city government all cut jobs to trim budget:

The region is on pace for 2010 to end with the lowest government employment figures in a decade. Further reductions are almost certain, as the public sector is caught between a struggling economy and spending increases in the form of contractual pay raises, pension costs and higher bills for employee health benefits.

Meanwhile the Times Union reports that 218 Department of Environmental Conservation employees have officially gotten notice about coming layoffs.  They're not losing their jobs just yet - the memos are to let "everyone know what their options are," a Budget Division spokesman tells the paper.

Empire Games cancelled
Rochester won't be getting the 2011 Empire State Games after all, reports the Buffalo News.  The multi-sport event is yet again a victim of the recession.  Initially cut from the state budget in 2009, but rescued in 2010 by a corporate sponsor, organizers haven't been able to muster support for next year's event:

According to published reports, Winter Games administrator Lisa Del Signore sent a letter to ESG athletes reading: "It is with great regret and sadness that I must inform you of the cancellation of the 2011 Empire State Games programs. "We have been informed that there will be no appropriation for any of the Empire State Games programs in the coming year, and two of our five staff members have been laid off effective the end of the year. The other three have been re-assigned within the State Parks agency. With no money and no staff, we have no program," she wrote.

Fracking debate
A conversation with a state assemblywoman at a Sierra Club meeting outside Binghamton turned quickly to hydrofracking, the Press & Sun-Bulletin reports.  Attendees debated the economic and environmental plusses and minuses of the natural gas extraction technique.

Environmental settlement
Honeywell has settled with the state over how to remediate former chemical waste dumping grounds outside Syracuse, according to the Post-Standard.  It'll take a number of steps, like building a boat launch, studying water quality, and covering waste beds, for a yet-to-be-determined price tag, somewhere in the millions.  The whole project will take at least a decade.

Seasonal hiring
The Democrat and Chronicle reports that seasonal hiring is predicted to increase this year, as retailers stockpile more goods and unemployment declines:

"I expect 50 percent of the retailers here to add workers for the holidays," said Mike Wilmot, general manager at The Marketplace mall in Henrietta. The mall not only has retailers adding workers but has stores like Calendar Club and Hickory Farms that open for the season and close soon afterward. Wilmot said that the mall's stores plan to open earlier and stay open later during the holidays, which has caused some problems in hiring. "Some of the store managers are telling me that it's hard to find people willing to work those hours," Wilmot said.

Teacher training
The federal government is investing in teacher training in eight states, including New York, to get teachers to spend more time in front of classes, instead of listening to professors.  The Times Union reports:

The clinical experience for education students now averages just 10 to 14 weeks, according to the report. The new recommendations call on teacher preparation programs to become more like medical schools -- teacher interns would work closely with resident teachers in a classroom setting.

SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher says of the move, according to the paper:

… the report [about the need for different training tactics is] a "seismic" moment because it will turn the way teachers are prepared "upside down." She said SUNY would immediately begin implementing the reforms.

Cuomo on state budget
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo told reporters in Buffalo yesterday that he believes the state is in "financial crisis," but also has "an opportunity."  Cuomo reiterated that he won't raise taxes during his visit, but also didn't make any promises about cutting them, reports the Buffalo News:

But he also said the state has to cure itself of its "hangover" from when it was a job and business mecca and undergo an "attitude adjustment" in making the state more hospitable to commerce. "The goal is simple: jobs, jobs, jobs," he said. "If you create jobs, people can take care of their own lives. If you are not creating jobs, you're going to have a serious problem."

Syracuse expands
Syracuse University is making it easier for community college students to transfer in, according to the Post-Standard.  A new program will guarantee admission for Onondaga Community College students with good grades.  An SU spokesman says the agreement could double the number of students who currently transfer between the two schools every year. 

Meanwhile, the paper also reports that SU is planning a new housing complex targeted to law and graduate students.  The developers are looking for a tax exemption from the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, for apartments that will rent for $899 a month.

Medical firm expanding
A pharmaceutical firm in Albany is expanding its facility, and is expecting to hire between 30 to 50 more workers by the end of the year, reports the Times Union:

The expansion project, expected to be completed by next summer, includes 6,000 square feet of additional lab space where quality control is done. The current lab, which is cramped, now staffs 55 employees. The expansion will allow Regeneron to hire an additional 25 to 30 people for that space. That is all due to the number of drugs the company has under development to treat arthritis, certain cancers and heart disease. The company already has one drug for a rare inflammatory condition on the market, and it expects that this year's research and development spending will top $700 million, up from $570 million last year. That's a huge deal for the Capital Region, [company vice president Daniel] Van Plew said.

Building houses
New building permits for single family homes are on the rise in the Capitol Region, reports the Times Union.  An analyst tells the paper it could be a sign that "the freeze is thawing."

Buffalo hosted its annual food and beverage trade show on Tuesday, showcasing regional producers.  Among the stars of the event, according to the Buffalo News: shelf stable milk, roast beef sandwiches, and new pouring systems for beer.  Sounds like dinner!

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