RENSSELAER Schenectady resident Randall Riddle sent out nearly 800 resumes after losing his job in the third round of layoffs at Atlas Copco Compressors in Voorheesville in September. Now he's a biotech product specialist and one of the 40 recently hired at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Rennselaer.
Riddle said he's been at the company since March 8. Even with degrees in business and aerospace science he said he found it difficult to find a position. But he didn't give up.
"It's a tough economy out there," said Riddle, 31. "It's tough as I've ever seen it."
Capital Region unemployment rates
COUNTY (MARCH 2010 RATE, MARCH 2009 RATE)
ALBANY, 6.5%, 6.5%
FULTON, 10.5%, 10.5%
MONTGOMERY, 10.1%, 10.8%
RENSSELAER, 7.9%, 7.7%
SARATOGA, 7%, 6.8%
SCHENECTADY, 7.5%, 7.3%
SCHOHARIE, 10.2%, 10.7%
Note: Figures are not seasonally adjusted.
The state Department of Labor announced the rate of joblessness in New York State was stabilizing at a current 8.6 percent at Regeneron today as a way to highlight a company growing its payroll in a down economy. The Capital Region's unemployment rate in March was 7.2 percent, relatively unchanged from March 2009's 7.1 percent.
Major job losses were seen across several sectors in the state over the past year, including manufacturing, which saw a decline of 30,600 jobs; government, a loss of 26,200 jobs; construction, a loss of 25,400 jobs; financial, a loss of 23,800 jobs; and trade, transportation and utilities, a loss of 23,700 jobs.
Gains were made in educational and health services, which saw an increase of 29,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality, which increased by 12,700 jobs; and other services, which increased by 900 jobs.
Regeneron, based in Tarrytown, makes drugs that treat serious illnesses such as cancer. Rensselaer is home to the company's manufacturing operations that is set to grow from 300 to 370 employees by the end of the year.
Overall, Regeneron plans to grow from 1,000 employees to 1,400 employees by the end of 2010, according to Daniel Van Plew, Regeneron's senior vice president and general manager of Industrial Operations and Product Supply. Plew said growing fast has its challenges but has been manageable.
"Good [employee]) induction, good training and a buddy system. Those are the components that have helped us get through this," Plew said.
Partnerships with large drug companies like Sanofi-aventis and Bayer Pharmaceuticals help Regeneron to offset its manufacturing costs and the potential cash flow issues that can arise from exponential growth, Plew said.
Revenues for 2009 were $379.3 million, up from $238.5 million in 2008. Regeneron posted a net loss of $67.8 million for 2009, an improvement helped by higher revenues after a net loss of $79.1 million for 2008.