Unemployment increased and hiring became more difficult during the ongoing two-year pandemic, but there are some positive signs coming out of the Hudson Valley, where the unemployment rate recently dropped.

Amy Van Tassel knows hiring.

She works for Ethan Allen Workforce Solutions, which recruits employees for Hudson Valley companies. She and her colleagues came to the Think Dutchess Job Fair, hoping to find new talent.

"We are on an uptick right now," Van Tassel said. "It was for a long time that there were lots of jobs and not a lot of people looking for work. Right now, the candidate market is getting better."

The unemployment rate in the Hudson Valley dropped down to 2.7% in December from 3.6% the previous month. Dutchess County’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.6% in December, down from 3.5% in November.

"I would say it's probably a lot of short-term seasonal work that’s come to an end," Van Tassel said. "People are really getting serious about getting out to work."

With unemployment benefits running out for many people at the end of 2021, many returned to the job market.

"I think some people were seeing if it was gonna last a little bit longer, so it was maybe like a month after it ended that things started getting much busier for us," Van Tassel said.

Chris Riley of Poughkeepsie was hunting for a new job.

"I'm here looking for work now, try something new," he said. He found some jobs that interested him. "I can do part-time, full-time. Honestly, it hasn’t been bad. I thought it was going to be a little harder, but there's a lot of places hiring right now," he said.

He’s particularly interested in working at Adams Fairacre Farms. That’s good, because they really need workers.

"It's been difficult as far as finding workers goes," said Daniel Snyder of Adams Fairacre Farms. "It's been difficult more than it has been in previous times, however, I do feel like we’ve had a solid application pipeline coming in with qualified people who want to work."

Van Tassel said job seekers are more empowered than ever.

"They know their worth right now, so they know that they don’t have to necessarily take positions that are not going to pay them and give them the benefits and opportunities that other jobs would give them," she said. "So they're really being selective in what they're taking."