The state Department of Labor said Tuesday that the Bronx’s not-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in April had fallen to 10.5%, placing it ahead of Hamilton (11.4%) and Lewis (10.9%) counties upstate for the second straight month. This spring is the first time in quite a while—possibly years—that the Bronx did not have the worst rate of the state’s 62 counties.
The two counties that the Bronx passed in unemployment rate couldn’t be farther from the city geographically, culturally and economically. Hamilton and Lewis counties are adjacent to each other, north of Albany and west of Lake George, close to the Canadian border. Lewis County is the more populous of the two, with 27,000 residents. Its chamber of commerce calls it “a land of prosperous dairy farms, quiet woodlands, clear streams and lakes, and clean air,” and “a place where friendly, honest people go about their business with a cheerful word for the passing stranger.”
Hamilton has just 4,800 people, the fewest of any county in the state (about 1 for every 292 Bronx residents). But it’s the largest in terms of land mass at 1,290 square miles—23 times the size of the Bronx. The county is mostly wilderness. Its primary industry, and perhaps its only one, is tourism.
The Bronx, meanwhile, has 1.4 million residents jammed into 57 square miles. It is also trying to encourage tourism, just not of the sort that highlights its infamously high poverty rate or its past reputation (sometimes exaggerated) as a crime-ridden slum.
“We are more than happy to welcome tours to our community that celebrate the rich culture and history of our neighborhoods,” said Mr. Diaz, “but using the Bronx to sell a so-called ‘ghetto’ experience to tourists is completely unacceptable.”