The Wind Chill Warning we've been under since very early yesterday morning now remains in effect until 10 this morning. The National Weather Service continued the warning after afternoon temperatures weren't expected to get out of the single-digits... and, winds were still prevailent in some areas. This latest shot of frigid, Polar air will be around through at least Wednesday. Forecaster Dave Thomas says... starting Thursday... we'll see highs of about 25-degrees. Thomas says... while winds have been light since late morning in the Jamestown-area... places where the winds pick up could still reach 20 to 30-below zero. That's low enough to cause hypothermia and frostbite for anyone venturing outside... even for a short period of time without proper clothing. Thomas says overnight temperatures were to drop to between zero and 10-below zero... with wind chills of close to 25-below zero.
The county's unemployment rate fell by a-tenth of a percent last month to it's lowest December rate since about the time the "Great Recession" began. That from State Labor Department Analyst John Slenker in Buffalo... says the unemployment rate fell from 7.3-percent in November to 7.2 last month. Slenker says the job picture is "very stable" right now... and, much better than it was when when "Great Recession" was at it's height. Still... Slenker says the county lost 200 jobs in December... but, he adds those losses were expected because they were in construction -- which typically sees fewer jobs in Winter. Slenker says the 'bigger' losses have ended... and, things have been "more positive." Slenker says the reason the unemployment rate can go down when the number with jobs drops is due -- in large part -- to retirements. The number of employed people was down by 400... while the job count was down by 100.
The jobless picture was similar in Cattaraugus County... where John Slenker says the unemployment rate fell one-tenth of a percent to 7.2-percent in December. Slenker says the job numbers did improve at our neighbors to the east. He says the number of jobs increased by 300 to 33-thousand-600. Slenker says that was mainly due to one part of the Leisure and Hospitality sector. Slenker says Education and Health Services are down over the year... while Leisure and Hospital, and, Finance and Commercial Activities were up over the year. He says Cattaraugus County's jobless rate in December of 2012 was 9.1-percent.
The state labor department reports that the unemployment rate for New York's 52-county upstate region fell to 6.4 percent in December, down from 8.4 percent a year earlier. The 10-county downstate region including New York City saw the rate fall from 8.2 percent to 6.7 percent over the year, and metropolitan areas upstate saw their rate drop from 8.1 to 6.2 percent. The statewide unemployment rate was 7.1 percent in December. The national rate was 6.7 percent. The labor department says Tuesday that 109,900 private sector jobs were added to New York's economy in 2013, bringing the job count to a record high of 7,503,700. Health care, social services, retail and food service accounted for most of the job gains. Government lost 13,200 jobs, more than any other sector. More than half were in schools.
There was a lot to like about Mayor Sam Teresi's State of the City Address... including the call for continuing to work in non-partisan ways to keep good momentum going... and, solve critical problems. For the first time anyone could remember... the mayor called for stepped up efforts to deal with illegal drug activity... and, arsons in the city -- mainly to vacant structures. On drugs -- especially the growth in Heroin trafficking... long-time Republican Councilman Tony Dolce says one resident said it seems to be "creeping" into all areas of the city. Council President Greg Rabb says the drug issue is the most "challenging and frightening" issue facing the city. But... Rabb says while you want to get drug dealers off the street... you also need to address the demand. As far as drug dealers go... Rabb says the big problem is police make arrests... but, in some cases they get bailed out... and, go back to selling. In other cases... dealers are arrested, and the Kingpins involved just bring new people in to replace them.
Tax refund season has begun in New York. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said Monday it sent out its first 87 refunds for the 2013 tax year. The average refund was 183-dollars... and, the highest was 13-hundred-56 dollars. The refunds went to early filers who used New York's so-called Income Tax Web File... which allows returns to be prepared and electronically filed earlier than before.