Broken record for upstate economy

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Year-over-year private job gains since 2/13; dark shading means job loss or no growth. NYSDOL map.

Another month has brought another poor jobs growth report for upstate New York.

Today’s Labor Department release shows statewide private employment in February was up 1.6 percent over the same month a year earlier, trailing the national rate of 1.9 percent — a slightly smaller margin than in previous months. However, fully three quarters of the statewide job gain came in New York City, where private employment was up 88,700, or 2.6 percent. Another 17,300 jobs (15 percent of the statewide gain) were added on Long Island, boosted to at least some extent by the post-Sandy storm recovery. Continuing a recent trend, Putnam-Rockland-Westchester trailed the rest of downstate, adding 1,900 jobs for a 0.4 percent year-over-year growth rate.

In the 50-county upstate region (north of Dutchess and Orange), the reported year-over-year private job growth equated to a minuscule 0.33 percent, or 8,100 jobs.

Kingston, which grew by 3.5 percent, was the only upstate labor market to add jobs faster than the state or national average. The strongest major metro area in upstate New York over the past year was Buffalo-Niagara Falls, where private employment grew by 4,800 jobs, or 1.1 percent.

Employment continued to decline in the still natural gas-rich but fracking-free Binghamton and Elmira areas, and was flat in Syracuse and Utica. Even Ithaca, until now a strong performer, lost 500 private jobs in the year-over-year February count.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, compared to January, New York as a whole added private-sector jobs faster the nation in February, at a rate of 0.2 percent compared to the U.S. rate of 0.1 percent. This figure is not broken down on a regional basis.

Interestingly, the seasonally adjusted numbers in the state Labor Department report also indicate that New York State added 4,300 government jobs in February, which was fully one-third the total government job growth in the nation last month.

- E.J. McMahon is the President at the Empire Center for Public Policy.