Sidney plant’s job cuts spur unemployment rate

NORWICH – Unemployment hit a new high for the year of 6.7 percent in November headed off by about 265 jobs lost at Meadwestvaco, located just over the county line in Sidney.

November’s unemployment rate compared to 6 percent in October and 4.6 percent in November 2007. Chenango County’s figure is now higher than the nation’s, at 6.5 percent, and New York’s at 5.9. Most jobs were lost in the professional and business services sector.

While officially in Delaware County, nearly half of Meadwestvaco’s 1,050 employees commute daily from Chenango’s nearby towns and villages. The latest cuts at the consumer and office supplies maker included 50 salaried staff that are not seasonal layoffs, company officials said earlier this month. The company blamed the cutbacks on the "challenging economic environment.”

The remaining workforce, which is unionized, is currently in contract negotiations. A spokesperson for the company could not be reached for comment, but analysts are predicting that Meadwestvaco could face diminished earnings next year because of slowing demand, partly from customers reducing inventories and partly from weaker pension and real estate income.

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