A mixed picture of upstate jobs

by E.J. McMahon |  | NY Torch

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.13.24 PMYear-over-year private-sector job growth has picked up in Buffalo and Rochester but is still sinking in the Southern Tier and weakening in the Hudson Valley, according to the latest statistics from the state Labor Department.

New York State as a whole was behind the U.S. pace during the 12 months ending in September, gaining private jobs at a 1.7 percent rate, compared to a national rate of 2.1 percent.

Noteworthy trends:

  • About three-quarters of the 135,000 new private jobs gained statewide were created in the downstate region, including nearly 70,000 in New York City. While still disproportionately small, the upstate share of growth has grown markedly since 2010-14, when the downstate percentage of all new jobs was typically in the high nineties.
  • Buffalo (+1.8 percent) and Rochester (+1.7 percent) both are growing at a faster pace than they were a year ago.
  • The weakest upstate regions: Binghamton, Elmira and previously booming Ithaca, all of which lost jobs.  Utica-Rome and Syracuse saw barely any employment growth, with gains of just 0.3 percent each.
  • Employment growth in New York City’s northern suburbs has essentially come to a halt, including job gains of just 0.8 percent in Orange-Rockland-Westchester and a drop of 1.1 percent in Dutchess-Putnam.

As also noted in the Labor Department’s monthly report, New York’s “statewide unemployment rate decreased from 5.2% to 5.1% in September 2015, reaching its lowest level since April 2008 and falling in line with the United States as a whole.”

However, the background labor data released today also showed that the labor force participation rate dropped for a third consecutive month, suggesting that unemployment is down mainly because fewer people are looking for work.  That trend is illustrated in the chart below:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 12.16.28 PM

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