Economic gap widens between upstate and downstate New York

| New York Post

It’s a tale of two states — upstate and downstate.

Upstate New York’s economy has added just 6.3 percent more jobs since 2010, among the worst performances in the nation, according to a study released Tuesday.

But downstate — driven by New York City — roared ahead with 21.2 percent new jobs, which allowed Gov. Cuomo to boast that the entire state now has 8.1 million private sector jobs, the most in its history.

In fact, the study by the Empire Center for Public Policy said the economic gap between upstate and downstate has never been greater.

“Notwithstanding Cuomo’s claim to the contrary, the economic recovery has been far from `even’ across New York. In fact, the last eight years have seen a sharp and growing economic divide between upstate and downstate,” said the study, prepared by the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon.

“By any standard, upstate New York’s economic recovery has been among the weakest of any region in the country. Indeed, parts of upstate have yet to `recover from the recession at all.’”

The report said 22 upstate counties have not yet recovered all the jobs lost during the 2009 recession.

The state as a whole gained 1.1 million private sector jobs since 2010, a growth rate of nearly 17 percent. But the 12-county downstate region — New York City, Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley — accounted for 985,000, or 88 percent of the increase.

To put the disparity in perspective, the entire upstate region produces 130,108 jobs — about 53,000 less than the 183,805 job gains in Brooklyn — during the eight-year period.

Broome County in the Southern Tier, which includes Binghamton, actually saw a 3 percent reduction in jobs since the Great Recession.

Citing health and environmental concerns, Cuomo banned fracking for natural gas in the area, which some argue would have been a jobs booster.

“The governor has focused a lot of resources on upstate. The problem there is little evidence that it’s producing results,” McMahon said in an interview.

He said the opening of casinos upstate have had “no broad significant impact” on the upstate jobs picture.

The report said New York City was jobs engine lifting the entire state.

“The one steady engine has been New York City, which has been the core of the state’s economic growth. The city has been where the action is,” McMahon said.
“The suburban growth has been a spinoff of the city’s growth. The highest income households on Long Island have jobs in the city.”

Despite the findings, the Cuomo administration still insisted that all parts of the state are on the upswing.

“It is indisputable is that – unlike previous recoveries – unemployment is down in every region, ‎private sector jobs are at an all-time high and middle-class taxes are at their lowest levels in 70 years due to the efforts of this administration,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.